Category Archives: Letting Go

Wow, what a ride…

wow what a ride

There is a saying in my circles that drives me absolutely crazy some times.

“This Too Shall Pass.”

Honestly, when I’m in the middle of THIS, whatever it is, I’m not all that keen on seeing the temporary of my situation. All I can see is the now and the now stinketh much sometimes.

Take my right now for instance. I am 30 weeks into what started as a simple ankle replacement. I am still in part one of that. My tibia is still broken and we haven’t even gotten to the ankle part. People have commented about my positive attitude and I want to tell you, there are days where my prayers sound like King David’s “How long Oh Lord?”

Now I do know that my leg is going to heal and that life will pick up again and that like the saying goes this will pass. I know this because 10 years ago, it was my heart that was broken instead of my leg.

10-years ago, I didn’t believe this would pass. I felt stuck in a never-ending cycle of hurt and disappointment.

While I was still depressed over my circumstances, I chose to trust God with a single step. Nothing major, just make my bed. Then it was get dressed. Then take a walk. Quit my job. And then the scariest of all – make a new friend. And another. And another.

Over time things changed. I started doing things that scared me to death for a moment and produced wonderful results. (I failed at a lot of things as well, but you know… I kept going anyway)

tbt2

So beloved – where ever you are, whatever season you are in, know that things do pass, life does change, and if you take one small step of faith and courage great things will happen.

Be Brave
Be Bold
Dare to Live

Walking each other home: Book review of Stitches by Anne Lamott

IMG_2539970996080 “My time is limited. I’m dyingyou know. Not that anybody cares.”

Sigh.

It is one of those conversations where I catch myself with one hand on the receiver and one hand on the ground so that the Earth’s trajectory – and her self pity – doesn’t send me hurling into space.

“Are you going to die today?”

“Well, no.”

“Good. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

It’s been almost four years since I first met Anne Lamott in Traveling Mercies. A lot has happened in those four years and in that time, I have read every non-fiction book she has written. I find that how I receive her books is very much contingent on where I am at when I read them. What jumps out at me today, might be entirely different tomorrow.

ultimately, we are just walking each other home. – Ram Dass

The main alcoholic in my life is dying Not today, or tomorrow, but soon. They have a year maybe two at the most left.I think they need to live with me so that I can help and they think they need to stay exactly where they are (over 1, 000 miles away.) They want to die the same way they live: On their terms.

I think that stinks, but nobody asked me.

I can either spend what is left of their life arguing with them, or I can see them for who they are, a child of God, and allow them the dignity of making their own choices.

Stitches is full of Anne’s trademark dry humor, subtle wisdom, and gentle heart. It’s almost poetic in its writing style and it’s soft-spoken much like Anne’s actual speaking voice. Rather than hammer at you, she almost whispers. Stitches is like a sacred conversation between old friends.

Anne writes and speaks with gentle authority and with the wisdom of a woman who has been there, done that, and lived to tell about it. Whether it’s as the overly sensitive child who learned the freedom that comes from choosing to see what is really going on, the woman who is walking her husband home after 40 years, the best friend who grieves, the mother with a mentally ill son, or the teacher who doesn’t give up – Anne teaches us that life is a miracle, the sun continues to rise with or without our permission, that we are not rags, and that if we hold hands, we can stand against the wind.

I don’t know what season you are in. For me, I’m in the thick of chapter two – The Overly Sensitive Child. Perhaps you are facing life without your mate, a sick or wayward child, the loss of a best friend or a community tragedy much like what hit Moore Oklahoma this year. And maybe you are wondering how to stitch your life back together.

Maybe, like me you need to hear that it’s okay to let other people in , that beauty has meaning, we can take our own turn and that we are not rags. Whatever season you are in, or what you may need to hear, Stitches is a book that has something for everyone. I give it 5 stars.

You can get your copy at Amazon.com

DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT: While I do at times receive free copies of books in exchange for honest reviews, no goods or services were received in exchange for this review. I purchased the book myself via Amazon and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to tell my readers about it.

Chasing Feathers

lady-blowing-feathers-300x300They really need to fix that whole REPLY ALL function in email by adding some kind of warning like “you are about to copy the universe with your opinion, are you sure you wish to do this?” type feature or something.

That would simplify my life a whole heck of a lot.

Granted, so would self-control.

But I digress.

I heard a story one time about a man seeking the wisdom of the Shaman at the top of the mountain. The shaman took a feather pillow, tore it open and released the feathers. “Go and gather every feather.” He said.

The man raced around the mountain trying to catch every feather that fell and returned dejected.

“I tried my best, but I cannot catch every feather that you released. The wind is too strong.” he said.

The Shaman smiled. “And so it is with our words. Choose them wisely because once released, we cannot get them all back.”

I tend to be that man (or woman rather) running the mountain side trying to catch back every feather, every lie, every word, spoken and released at the top of the mountain by well-meaning, and perhaps not so well-meaning, Christians and atheists alike.

I want to snatch it away before it lands on someone’s head and they believe it.

So many responses have come out in light of the events of December 14th. My mail box and Facebook pages are full of what if this and what if that — I get it, we want answers. Lying about God isn’t the answer. Much better blogs have been written on this subject than I can write.

I snapped today — someone sent me yet another “Where was God” post. This one a Mike Huckabee video. I watched the video and immediately responded with “This Crap! This isn’t my God.” — without checking who was on the original list, I started chasing feathers — my response was rather lengthy and I’ll spare you the details. It seems I replied to everyone in this poor man’s mail box. Our church, our district and several national directors of Christian Education.

I’ll be apologizing to the man the next time I see him. I wasn’t trying to discount his motive, just Mike’s Message. Sometimes I wind up chasing my own feathers and that is never fun. Self control would have been prudent. It’s not my place to defend God. I’m learning however, it is my place and my call — to tell the truth about God.

But that is a story for another day.

Be well you guys. and Behave!

We are all hypocrites and drama queens

There is a difference between a catastrophe and an inconvenience. While some of us are happy that President Obama won a second term, many are unhappy and are reacting as though this were an earth shattering catastrophe.  Let me make myself clear here — Hurricane Sandy and the destruction to lower Manhattan and other parts of the East coast is a catastrophe – Mitt Romney losing the election is an inconvenience at best. Some  of us need to get a grip.

No matter who you voted for yesterday, today we breathe in, we put one foot in front of the other and we live. Hopefully we live for something outside of ourselves. I voted, and those who know me best know who I voted for and why. Granted if you follow me on Twitter, you already know who I voted for and if you are still reading my blog you either agree with me or came to see if God struck me dead with lightning yet.

So for all of my Christian readers who believe I’m in a hand basket headed straight for hell, sorry. I’m still here. And being black-listed for either being a Christian or being a Democrat does not hurt my feelings. I needed time off anyway and now that my entire month of November is free, I can write my book.

I say that a little tongue in cheek in all honesty. Are we really that petty? Hollywood black lists Christians and Christians black list each other over trivial things. Drama queens abound on either side and yet somewhere in the middle is our tribe.

I’ll admit trying to give up anger during an election year has not been easy. I might as well as tried to give up chocolate while working in a candy store. So many things can make my skull split in half, the word “Koolaid” being the most recent thing that brings out my alter-ego “home-girl.” I try to placate her with cookies, but sometimes she comes out and she is U-G-L-Y.

I have an IQ of over 145, I don’t drink koolaid and neither does anyone else I know. I hear that word on both sides of the spectrum. Not only does the far right use it to describe Democrats, I have several atheist friends do the same thing to describe anyone who dares believe in a God.  My writers group is loaded with atheists and progressive Christians. I fall somewhere in the middle I’m sure.

I love my friends dearly, and I know I am a bit of a conundrum to them. I’m a Christian female who gave up my career to raise my family. No regrets. I choose to submit to my husband out of love and respect (not fear or koolaid brainwashing), and yet I am a Democrat. I believe in helping those less fortunate. I believe that women have equal value to men. I believe in a lot of things actually. If I’ve learned nothing from this election season, I’ve learned this: In the final analysis, be us believers of God or not, we’re all hypocrites and drama queens.   

That’s good news to me. Knowing we are all hypocrites means we can let go of our masks and just be ourselves and hopefully learn to love each other.

Now let us put one foot in front of the other, breathe in and out, stop awefullizing everything, quit being a victim and LIVE.

Manic Monday: Making Courageous Choices

“I’m not a control freak, I just want everyone to be happy. Oh, and like me. Yes, I definitely want people to like me.  Why? Because that’s the only way I can like myself.” — me

Oh yah, no control issues here. Eye rolling is allowed.

I may “waller in defeat” from time to time, as my friend Tonya would say, but I don’t stay there.

Nobody, I don’t care who they are, or how famous and together we might think they are, leads a charmed life.

Everyone has problems.

Everyone has choices.

That’s why I like the Full Circle link so much. Here’s a guy, who hit rock bottom 19 years ago doing a benefit ride for the very place he got sober. I think that’s cool. I think that takes courage.

What does courage look like to you?

  • Is it public speaking?
  • Skydiving?
  • Saying no when you really need to even if it means disappointing someone?
  • Or is it risking feeling selfish and realizing that the greatest gift we can give this world is to be the best us we can be?

One of my favorite devotional pages says :

March 26 in The Little Blue Book ONE DAY at a TIME in AL-ANON:

Why is it so hard to admit we are powerless over alcohol, as the First Step suggests we do? All of us have heard and shared in discussions at Al-Anon meetings as to whether this should be interpreted as “alcohol” or the “alcoholic.” We have no power over either one. No one can control the insidious effect of alcohol or its power to destroy the graces and decencies of life. No one can control the alcoholic’s compulsion to drink. But we do have a power, derived from God, and that is the power to change our own lives. Acceptance does not mean submission to a degrading situation. It means accepting the fact of a situation and then deciding what we will do about it.

TODAY’S REMINDER

Progress begins when we stop trying to control the uncontrollable and when we go on to correct what we have the right to change. If we accept a situation full of misery and uncertainty, it is no one’s fault but our own. We can do something about it!

“Fighting futility is just a waste of energy, Samantha. Either do something or quit fretting.” – Celebra Tueli

While this particular page refers to alcoholism and alcoholics it can be about so much more. It hurts watching people we love destroy their lives. What causes even greater pain is putting our lives on hold while we wait for everyone else to get it together.

It has taken me a long time to really believe that I am powerless over people, places, and things, meaning I cannot control people or make their choices for them. I cannot control how people see me, or whether or not they like me. Nor can I control the weather, or disease/disabilities. Shoot, I struggle with controlling myself, thinking I can control others is pure ego.

All I have is the power to make the best choices for me.

That’s really where courage begins. Finding the power to make the best choices for ourselves regardless of the choices our loved ones make. This includes our spouses, siblings, friends, and dare I say it adult children.

I’m a firm believer that the power to change can only come from believing in a God that’s bigger than me. For some of us, finding that God takes courage.

My wish today for you and for myself is that we stop right where we are at and know beyond knowing that we can make better choices today than the ones we made yesterday — and then go do it. 

Maybe for some of us, that choice is simply the acceptance of knowing the we are loved beyond measure  no matter what and acting on that belief.

What choices are you making today?

Chances Are I’m not the same and neither are you.

 “Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.” – Maya Angelou

 Do you ever feel like no one notices that you’ve changed? We work really hard to overcome a bad habit, fear, impatience, anger, an addiction or whatever and we look around and expect people to notice that we are doing new things only no one does. They are still acting and reacting as if you are the old you. Do you ever get frustrated by that? I do. I know I shouldn’t. But I do.

I have a confession to make: I’m not always happy with my changes – no matter how wonderfully great and hard-earned they are – if no one notices. To be honest, I have a broken mirror. Whenever I look at someone and I notice they are seeing “me” from 20 years ago and not the me I am today, all my hard work crumbles and I begin to doubt that I’ve really changed at all.

When I get like that I need to remember three things. 1. I need to get over myself and 2. I have changed even if people don’t notice. 3. God notices and that is really all that matters.

20 years ago I was a fearful, sitting on my hands so that no one could see them shake, quiet (unless I was mad then I was eruptive), passive/aggressive, boy crazy, insecure, verge of tears mess most of the time. 20 years ago, I read tarot cards, believed in reincarnation, could drink 16 shots of tequila in one sitting and live to tell about it, smoked more than cigarettes, thought sitting in the pews at church was all I’d ever be allowed to do and didn’t trust a living soul if my life depended on it. 20 years ago I spent more time apologizing for being alive than I spent actually living.

Through God’s amazing and grace, His work in me and in part my commitment to that work, I am nowhere near that woman today and while I’m thankful, I still sometimes want people to really notice.

If you’ve been there then you know what I’m talking about. It stinks, doesn’t it? It’s not like we want a ticker tape parade or something, well sometimes I do but that’s another story. Mostly though we do want people to at least acknowledge that we’ve changed in a positive light, right? Change is hard. It takes work and commitment. Of course we want people to notice. What is the point of changing if no one notices?

I believe it is human nature to desire positive feedback and encouragement for all of our hard work. Having said that though, it isn’t always reality and that is okay.

We aren’t changing for them anyway, right?

Right.

I could write a book on all the things I’ve learned – and relearned – about change over the past 20 years. I’ll just leave you with four.

1. Change has to be for me If the only reason I am changing is to please someone else, the change won’t last.  If my only reward is approval rather than growth I’m striving for then I am left at the mercy of the whims and desires of others. I’m always off-balance and never whole. Real change starts from within and requires a trust in something outside of ourselves. A higher power. God. When I choose to change for another person than I’ve made them my God and that’s never good.

2. Some people don’t want me to change and they will resist the changes we make to ourselves. — There will be people who, for whatever reason, do not want you or me to change. They have a vested interest in our staying the same. We meet a need, whether it’s a healthy need or not doesn’t matter.  It could be as simple as they like to be in control and don’t like no longer being able to control us. OR more than likely when I change, I upset the status quo. My changing does sometimes require a change in them and they don’t want to change so they resist and try to pull us back into our old selves. Staying true to our path takes commitment.

3. People continue to see what they expect to see. – This is the most difficult one for me to accept. I’ve had to wrestle this one recently because I catch myself playing “Don’t you see? Look at me! Look at what I’m doing.” I catch myself feeling defeated when I hear someone talk about me as if I were still the old me. As long as I’m striving for the uncontrollable – another person’s thought process – I’ll always be striving and I’ll never have peace. Until they realize they need to update their view of me, they will always see what they want.

“If people refuse to look at you in a new light and they can only see you for what you were, only see you for the mistakes you’ve made, if they don’t realize that you are not your mistakes, then they have to go.” ― Steve MaraboliLife, the Truth, and Being Free 

Now here’s the trick. We don’t need to be whiny or self-righteous about it. I’ve read stories and blogs by people who kind of react with a “I’ll just take my dolly and play with someone else then.” or “if you won’t stand by me through my failures then you can’t be with me during my success.”  kind of attitude and that isn’t what I’m striving for here. And yes I’ve read those. This isn’t about natural consequences for bad choices. This is more about letting go of people who hold us back to our old selves.  Which brings me to my last point -

4. Sometimes we have to find a new tribe. — This is especially true for those of us with addictions. Whether it is food, alcohol, drugs, co-dependency or whatever, we need to surround ourselves with like-minded people who are committed to change and growth. The only way to make room for the new is to let go of the old – in love -

 If your past reputation is really holding you back, you may just have to change your environment – Sometimes no matter what you do, you can’t shake your old reputation, and that prevents you from accessing the things you want (friends, respect, etc.). No matter how much you try to convince people you’re different, it falls on deaf ears and you keep getting the same poor results you always have. At times the right decision is to cut your losses and move on to a new environment, where the people you meet will be able to see you objectively. – CHRIS

This does not require some grand announcement loaded with self pity either. Keep changing, keep growing no matter what other people do or don’t do and find your tribe. It’s worth it. You are worth it.


My Kind of Dirty

I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it. George Bernard Shaw

I did a crazy thing this week. I twittered Anne Lammott and asked her if she’s ever been so angry that she couldn’t write well and what does she do when that happens?

That really bordered on questionable sanity on my part.  Why?

1. I do not know her personally.

2. She has  11,000+ people following her and messaging her. I highly doubt I’ll hear back. But you know, I had to ask.

3. I’ve read enough of her books to guess what she’d do. She’d breathe, write a crummy first draft, walk in the hills, pray, love, and maybe eat something. I already know what to do, I just wanted to whine.

Today’s political climate has my blood pressure boiling. Even though I’ve yet to decide who I’m voting for or which issues I believe in or what I think, I’m finding my circle of people I can have an intelligent conversation with in regards to politics to be drastically small. And just a hint, by intelligent I mean void of phrases like “liberal press”, “sluts”, “entitled”, “socialism”, “Communist”, “fair and balanced”, sighs that really imply “Jane you Ignorant slut”, “uneducated liberals”, “fascist right wing tea-parters” “bigots”

I think you get my drift.

I don’t like any of the GOP candidates. Considering I was a member of the Republican party since 1989 – 2011 that’s a tough cookie to chew on.

I think they are all idiots. And by using the word idiot, I have also disqualified myself from intelligent conversation. I do however predict this. The GOP has gone so far in alienating women that they will use Sarah Palin as their VP running mate in hopes of getting us back. I actually like Sarah and I honestly hope she’s more intelligent than to allow herself to be a puppet.

I’m still researching the “issues” and trying to determine where I stand and how I’ll vote. Given the push back and angry accusations from friends and family alike however, I think I’ll be more discreet in my research.

It is my son’s senior year, I have a book to write, poetry to edit, soccer games to attend, and a garden to clean up and recreate. I’m too busy to engage in everyone’s favorite pastime, “fighting on the internet” – so if you don’t hear from me for a while – let me at least show you where I am at and what I am doing. When I’m too angry to formulate intelligent words, I create beauty.

20120314-135212.jpg Our house is and the end of a dead-end road. Beautiful pine trees covered this fence before the ice storm of 2007 took them out. I now have a five year old maple tree to one end and a rose of sharon at the other end by the gate. For three years I had flowers and bushes in this garden. Last year’s record drought killed those. And so I have a clean slate to work with. As you can tell, my grass is still brown but the weeds look great.

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This focal point in my front yard always looks beautiful by midsummer. It’s loaded with irises, a nicely shaped evergreen, a Forsythia bush and a Rose of Sharon. All it needs is some weeding and trimming out.This is the garden my black widows like to live in. Must remember to wear leather gloves.

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My front entry. You will notice I only have one shutter. The left shutter has removed itself and refuses to reattach. No worries. My handy-dandy power drill / screw driver will cleverly remove lone shutter and I will transplant him with his mate against the fence you see in the back. This space does cry for balance. I have a lilac bush to the right with nothing to balance the height on the left. I’ll have to shop and see what I can find. Yeah, shopping.

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This side garden has never really come together. In the far back you can see my pine tree that succumbed last summer, a sweet pea and the twigs of a crape myrtle. Buried under the weeds are also day lilies.

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My side garden. The white fence behind the swing on the right separates this garden from the dogs and the rest of the yard. This is my happy place. Usually filled with lilacs, roses, and such, it is in a trans-formative state – meaning I have no clue what is coming back this year and what died for good. Weeding it and clearing the winter debris is a good start to discovering what lays beneath.

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THIS will be my biggest project. Prior to the ice storm, this little spot in my yard was home to a Bradford Pear (pretty white flowers that smell like raw sewage) and a pin oak. We’ve tried may things since then including a vegetable garden in feed troughs, but without shade this piece of land blisters in the afternoon sun. That and the fence is broken. We need to work with our neighbors and fix it. The trellis I put up to hide the fact it is broken, isn’t hiding it at all really. I will strip this garden clean and start again. We have utility right of ways back there so I have to be very careful. I am however convinced that I can create beauty back here.

I would rather play in the dirt than sling it, so instead of participating in the online folly, you’ll find me on the bike trails or in my yard. I will be here between games, and senior year activities to talk about what’s going on and what we as women in transition can do for the world and for those we love.

Have a great week you guys.

Fears Erased Daily

No clue where this is but I want one. Molly posted it on Facebook today. Wouldn't it be cool if we could write our fears on a chalkboard and then erase them? Can you imagine how empowering that would be?

I’m looking through a different mirror today, one that isn’t my own necessarily. I discovered that someone I care about is afraid of me. Shocked and more than slightly concerned, I wonder how I missed that.

They have me on a pedestal that I don’t belong on and when I expressed displeasure over a specific action I watched them go through an internal meltdown that I cannot control. Man that was painful to watch. You can see the brain turning and the lies manifest in a physical crumbling of the body and a tearing up of the eyes and you can’t stop it.

They are convinced because I expressed disappointment in an action that we can no longer be friends.

Every fiber of my being wants to wrap my arms around that wound that lies to their soul and love them.  I’d do it except that it’s not my place really. I’m not invited.

Fear is an awesome captor and a devil of liar. Fear whispers – “See they don’t love you, they think you are a horrible person and failure as a friend. You don’t deserve that. Send them away, I’ll keep you company, I won’t share your secrets. I won’t wound you like she did.” Think of Golum from Lord of the Rings, do you remember his evil alter ego? If I could paint you a word picture to describe what fear looks like angry, it would be that.

I know, because I’ve been there.

Fear lies. Whenever we are afraid of someone and they offer the slightest criticism, fear tells us they are wounding our soul and questioning our value to breathe air. And so we breathe deep, we stand tall and we make fits – and like three-year old children we attack the person who dares question us and we find safety under a mask of emotional violence. And then, just like that, we run away and hide our wounded selves.

Fear is selfish. It demands attention and hates to be ignored. It doesn’t want what’s best for you it  needs attention to flourish. Left ignored it dies.

Fear is afraid of light. Why? Because light heals the broken and musty places of our inner being. If I take away her fear or in any way try to diminish it,  uninvited, I rob her of growth.

I try to remember those mentors in my life who walk with me and love me through fear and think about what they do that I might do the same. Only I got nothin. Then, after seeing three posts on fear just this very morning my answer came. Those I invited in did embrace that wounded part of me.  I have to be willing to be vulnerable. I have to be willing to say out loud the lies fear whispers to my brain. And for those times when fear held me captive, those I did not invite in, let me go with love and peace.

I’m not invited. I do not cause her fear, I cannot control it, nor can I cure it.

And so, I love her and I wish her well. And I know, that like me – she will find her way in this crazy thing we call life.