Words – That Make Up A Life

There’s a book in me, waiting to be written; one book. Probably, everyone has one book. I’m thinking that maybe we all have an obligation to write it down. We, each, have a right to say our words, record our thoughts, share our life with the world. Everyone, everywhere has a story. I’m going to tell mine. I need to tell mine. Something inside me, all around me is telling me to say these words. 

It’s time. 

Stop making excuses. Get the words down. What’s stopping you? Fear? Haven’t we talked about this? Don’t you know that fear just holds you back? Just write! Write like there really is no tomorrow. Tell your kids all the words you want to share, just in case. Tell your friends what they meant to you. Tell your ex-husbands (living and passed) that they played such an important role in your life. Tell your parents, even though they are long gone, that you forgive them, that you understand now. Tell the world your words. One book.  Just one book.  But you need to write it.  It won’t write itself!

Ok, so here we go again. It seems like I’ve tried to start so many times. Once, I even got so far into it that I did a little research on how to publish. That was the last time, actually, but every time something happens that makes me close the file; save it…but stop.

Words. They are just words.  And I tell myself that my words are not so special. My words are no more important than another person’s words so why do I think that my words should be printed and bound for others to see? Why do I believe someone would  actually read it? Why?

I’m going to tell you why.

Guided Memories

Over the past several years, I feel that my reflections have seemed guided. I have written about my life experiences and then, through the act of writing, I have gained new insights, seen my thoughts play out a different way. Heard a voice…come from somewhere; inside my head. 

And with the help of that voice, anger turned to understanding. Frustration became moments to remind myself to just breathe and go with the flow. And joy…joy has become delicious…savored because all too soon, as I have learned with anger and frustration; it, too, passes.

I have learned that I can not expect life to go the way I plan. In fact, that is the one thing I can count on. If I don’t expect things to happen, than I am not so disappointed in some results, or afraid of what might happen.  Instead, I am far more excited about the unexpected gifts.

It’s been the act of writing that has become my meditation, my muse. Words flow into my thoughts as I write. Sometimes, these thoughts seem to be coming from someone other than me. How else can I explain what happened when my anger towards the relationship I had with my mother turned into an “aha” moment of understanding and compassion? How else can I explain the fact that I found life lessons inside every hurtful memory of two failed marriages? And how else can I explain how painful it was to have my daughter and her family move so far away but, somehow, through writing and long meditative walks in a woods, I found the strength to become her strength again.

Writing. Every day. Three pages. Hand written.  That’s what it is now, but in the beginning, it was simply tapping away on a computer; writing what flowed from my brain onto the page. And then, pausing every once in awhile to look out the window or stroll through the woods to see the beauty of life and to breathe.

So, my plan, now, is to share my thoughts, my life, my words with others. I know that they’re just my words. I know that everyone has their own words. But maybe, just maybe, if I write mine, others will see their words as well. And maybe, just maybe, others will be able to take a break from their anger or frustration, anxiety, or sadness, to stroll to a window, or take a walk in the woods to see the beauty in their life, too. 

This time, I will start at the woods and work my way backwards. This time, I will start at that window. And I will share the words that filled my head, the words that guided me, step by step, to today.  I’m going to try, day by day, to share this view of life.  There’s something in me right now that believes that now is the time.

So, hang on.  More is on the way! 

 

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“Let Go. Let God”

These words pop into my head every single time I find myself in one of those places where I feel as though there is nothing more I can do.

I am a strong person.  I try to take care of myself.  But sometimes…

It’s Not Up To Me

Sometimes, there are no clear answers, no clear path.  It’s at this moment when I take my hands off the steering wheel.   You know the song “Jesus Take The Wheel“.  Well that’s where I’m at right now. And, I know that I could have done this earlier.  I don’t need to try to control everything so much.  Things will turn out the way they are supposed to turn out.

No Dammit!

I don’t believe that God intended for us to just lay back, throughout life, just waiting for divine intervention.  We have a job to do.  We have choices to make.  This life is crafted by our choices. And so I have a choice right now but here’s the deal…my moves over the next few days are controlled by another.  They’ve been controlled by another for a few weeks now…because I made a choice!  Isn’t that interesting?  How many times do we give our freedom to someone else to hold and then lament our lack of freedom, throwing our arms up in the air saying “There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s out of my control.”

NO DAMMIT! I always have a choice!

But Right Now, I Can’t Breathe

Right now, right at this moment, my stomach hurts.  I have no words to form into a cohesive choice. Right now, I just need to close my eyes and let it go.

I need your help on this one God.  I need your help. Show me the way.  Give me the words to say. Help me make this choice.

And Before You Know It…

I will find myself on the other side.  I will have survived!  I didn’t die!  I’ll be reflecting back at it all and thinking…everything turned out just the way it was supposed to.

God, you’re good at this.  Thank you!

The Stress Of Moving

Dr. Wayne Dyer, in his book “I Can See Clearly Now” wrote about ending each day by thinking about all the positive things that happened during that day instead of leaving the day with anger or frustration.  He called it “Now I lay me down to sleep”.  He talked about how if we fall to sleep thinking about everything that went wrong with the day, it negatively affects our sleep. So then it’s logical that if our thoughts are the opposite – all the good things that happened during the day – then we can enter into sleep with a positive sense of peace and then it’s peaceful thoughts that fill our dreams.

The Stress Of Moving

Develop A Plan

You know, I’m a teacher at heart.  I like having a lesson plan.  So, when I entered into buying a house I had a plan.  And, everything was going according to that plan.  Then, I actually was able to move up the closing date which gave me extra time to make the house just perfect before I moved.  So, I set in on arranging to have the walls painted, the floors refinished, and electrical work done with time to spare so that I could actually move some things in early.

Gather Necessary Resources

And in the beginning, everything was on track.  I have a niece who agreed to paint walls. My daughter’s brother-in-law could fit me in to do the electrical work and I found someone who not only agreed to refinish the floors  but also offered to install a pocket door over a pantry and add a closet at the front entrance.  I was so excited that I came straight from the closing and started pulling up carpet.

I gathered packing boxes and did research on the cost of my top priority items.  I then laid out a time table with the amount of time I had available, bought the paint, ordered the pocket door and scheduled it for pick up and kept working on that carpet.  My hands and arms ached from pulling staples but I didn’t want anything to slow down all these great people who had so willingly found time in their schedules to fit me in.

Thrilled is an understatement.

Carry Out The Plan

I’ve been packing for a month, here and there.  I like to take my time with things; clean things up, get rid of things, sort things into the right box so unpacking will be easy. And, I take care of grandchildren so I can’t pack nonstop.  I like it paced out slow and easy.

Each of my “sub-contractors” checked in with dates and times when they would arrive to begin their work.

My plan was humming along.

Be Flexible

Now I’m going to tell you that not everything always goes according to plan.  Every teacher knows that and adjusts. Still, it’s hard not to get frustrated and anxious.  Will everything get done on time?  Not everything is getting done as fast as promised. My time to get some things in ahead of time is running out. Still I keep moving forward.  Time to order the refrigerator and microwave.  This is exciting.  It can be delivered on Saturday.  Can I be there on Saturday?  Absolutely!

Be Gentle With Yourself And Others

Saturday comes.  The kitchen is in disarray.  The stove had to be moved out of the way.  It was sitting in the middle of the floor. Chunks of drywall and wood needed to be bagged and pulled out of the way from the pocket door work. The wall where the refrigerator will go needed to be painted.  The floor needed to be cleaned. I didn’t have the microwave there early enough to have it installed by the electrician. He had everything else done.  I should have ordered it sooner.

My niece came to paint the wall even though there was an impending weather event.  She got as much of the kitchen painted as she could before I forced her to leave before the roads got bad.

The refrigerator was delivered…damaged.  They didn’t even take it off the truck.  The microwave that I ordered is too big for the space.  It needs to be returned as well.

The pocket door is half done, the floor refinishing is waiting, the front closet is waiting, and I still have more staples to pull!

I looked around at everything disheartened and so I just turned and left.

End The Day With Positive Thoughts

“Now I lay me down to sleep.”  Let’s see.  How can I end today on a positive note?  Easy.

Dear God,

I want to thank you for Rhonda (the painter).  Do you know she came today even though she knew the roads could get bad early.  She came because she had promised. Then when she left, she even loaded her car with excess carpet remnants to free up space in the garage.

Then there is all that electrical work.  Rick (the electrician) had someone cancel this past week so he was able to come both Tuesday and Thursday.  He has taken special care to make sure my house will have the right outlets.  No more extension cords. The outlet is ready for the microwave when I get the right one. He even said that he would come back next week to add an additional outlet on a wall in my new office just so I can add the right kind of light next to a chair.

Earlier in the day, I got to attend a music class with my grand-daughters.  It is the best hour of each Saturday.  Happy little kids.  Proud parents and grandparents.  It always leaves me feeling blessed.

And then, when I locked up the house for the day, I drove to Best Buy where I had ordered the refrigerator and microwave.  I asked to talk to a supervisor (a suggestion from my daughter).  I told him the whole story – the refrigerator came damaged, the microwave was too big… He could hear my frustration.  He said, “Let’s start at the beginning.  Let’s talk about the microwave.”  So I said that I clearly ordered the wrong size.  It will look gigantic over the stove and hang way too low.  He then broke into this little smile and said “You know we have this new microwave design.  I haven’t even put it out on the shelf yet.  It’s that new.”  It’s 10 inches shorter than the other one and will fit fantastically in my kitchen.  Then he said that we would have to reorder the refrigerator and make things right (with the price) because of my inconvenience. I left pleased.

After thinking through all the positive things that happened over the past days, I fell asleep at peace.

And I Slept Like A Baby

Is everything going smoothly and perfect.  No. But, there are lots of things that are going well. Regardless, in thirteen days I will be moving in.  Ready or not, here I come. And I am going to trust that everything will actually get done on time…maybe with a little time to spare!

No Pictures Yet! No One Needs To See Chaos 🙂

 

This Is A Story About A Robin…But You Have To Wait For It!

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Personal Photo

No, I’m not going to mention this robin right now.  Wait for it.

First, I need to share this:

Yesterday was one of those days; an incredible day that ended with me feeling as though I had real purpose.

It started simply enough with me taking my brother to a doctor’s appointment.  It wasn’t any simple appointment though.  He was to be scheduled for quadruple bypass surgery.  The doctor’s office is in an area unfamiliar to my brother so I offered to meet him halfway and drive him in.  The first road was blocked with a bridge out.  He instantly panicked but luckily I knew a different route.  He was thankful, at that moment, for me. The appointment had a twist.  We thought we were to schedule surgery, instead he needs to return to meet, first, with another cardiologist.  They have to make his heart strong enough for surgery.  My brother has a bit of a short fuse, so luckily I was there to keep everything calm.  Then, as we tried to set up a schedule for this additional doctor, I felt that the directions had been listed wrong.  I was right!  He needed a “heart failure” cardiologist not just a regular cardiologist.  It was because I had taken notes during our meeting with the surgeon that I was able to catch this and get it checked out and corrected before we made an unnecessary trip in to the wrong doctor.  My brother was safely delivered back to our halfway meeting point and he was calm.  My duty was done and he was very thankful.  I was pleased.

Second Story:

Then, my sister called.  She’s been living through several tough years.  She hates her job, also has heart issues, and just recently went through breast cancer surgery.  Through all of this, she has had a dream of running her own business; a shop of up-cycled treasures.  Last summer, we worked together to try it out by setting up displays at flea markets.  That worked well enough but made her tired and disappointed.  Still, the spring warmth and sunshine has her longing to try again.  With her energy level low, I’d offered to drive to her home every Saturday (75 minutes away) to help get things ready.  Then she hears that someone has a booth at an antique mall and would like to split the cost with her.  I jumped at the chance to encourage this.  “I’ll split the cost with you”, I say. Still it took two weeks before she contacted her friend and followed through with signing a 6 month lease for her half.  I was there again this Saturday to price some items and take them over this last Saturday.  She begins placement of her treasures and I could see that she was in her happy place.  She has an eye for design.  She started immediately rearranging the items already there, placing them in ways that compliment their value and then started placing hers.  In a little over an hour, we were done and she was pleased.  But it was yesterday when she called that there was actual joy in her voice.  She had returned to her booth to place a few more items.   The owner made a special point of telling her how nice the booth looked.  She told her more than once.  My sister mentioned it to me five times during our conversation.  She then shared a story about this job that she hates.  She’s been moved back to the deli area; the area that she had said was way too hard on her.  Today she was super busy. Why?  Because people are glad she’s back!  She was overjoyed!  Her hate for the job replaced with a new sense of value. I ended this conversation feeling as though I maybe had a bit of role in moving her towards her dream.  She was happier than I have heard her in years.  And I smiled.

Third Story And This Is Where The Robin Comes In:

I was sitting down, ready to eat and the phone rings yet again.  I see who’s calling and my instinct was to ignore it and go on  with my dinner.  Instead, I answered.  “Jane, you’re my bird lady.  You have to help me.  There is this robin that has been flying into my window all day long.  What is wrong with this bird?”  I tell her what I know about this kind of bird behavior but truthfully she really just wants to tell me how frustrating it all was and how she’s tried everything to make it just stop.  Then she changes topic a bit and tells me how upset she’s been lately with her life and how she even prayed to God to send someone to help her.  At that point, I said that maybe the robin was trying to get a message to her and while she continued to share her despair, I looked up the spirit message of the robin and then stopped her and said, “This is the message from the robin.”

If Robin has flown into your life;
Robin signifies stimulation of new growth and renewal in many areas of life. He teaches that any changes can be made with joy, laughter and a song in your heart. This bird shows you how to ride the winds of passion within your heart and become independent and self reliant through this change. The energy of this bird will teach you how to move forward with grace, tenacity, perseverance and assertion. Are you letting go of personal dramas? Ones that no longer serve your higher purpose? Are you exercising compassion and patience in mental, spiritual and emotional areas? This creature will teach how to incorporate new beginnings with faith and trust in the process. It is time to believe in yourself and use the inspiration that is given. Listen carefully. It is time sing your own song for a new period in your life.

When I finished, I waited for a response and instead heard silence.  I was worried that I had gone too far.  Perhaps she wasn’t interested in the possibility of animals sending messages to her.  But instead, she said, “You have no idea how amazing it is to hear that right now and let me tell you why.” She went on to share how so many things have been out of order in her life for the past months, how she had just told her husband that she needed to do something to change it, to bring back the joy in her life, to find her way back to taking care of herself, how she needed to back away from trying to be everything to everyone else.  And then she spoke of how much she missed our time together at the gym we had belonged to and I agreed.  We had been healthy and strong and we had both been away from that for too long.  We made a plan to meet tomorrow to get some exercise.  And then she said, “Well, I asked God to send someone to help me and I never thought it would be a bird!” And she laughed.  I smiled and then said, “Maybe God sent me.”

I went to bed last night with a happy heart.

 

Slow Down. Wait For Me!

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Wait for me you guys!

 

Why be in such a hurry?

Let’s enjoy today.

 

 

Remember when days seemed to go so slow?

When waiting for something seemed like an endless chore?  “I can hardly wait until…I turn sixteen so I can drive.. graduate from high school… turn 21 so I can legally drink… graduate from college… get married… have a baby… buy my first house.” And then something happens. All of a sudden, the “I can’t wait until” becomes  “I don’t want to turn 30…40…50…60!  Slow down! Hold on!  Everything is going too fast!”

And then, something inside your head says, “Just breathe.”

You stop for a moment and do just that and it’s like the first time that you actually heard birds singing or saw that tiny flower poking through the ground.  It’s the first time that you stood still and actually felt the warmth of the sun and saw the rays beaming through the branches of a tree. And hearing a baby cry sounds more like a miracle instead of a noise.

Slow down

It’s at this point that you realize that each day is a gift and you have a choice.  You can rush through the day and fall exhausted into bed each night feeling as though you will never ever get everything done and time is passing you by.  Or, you can find it in yourself to slow down and look at everything as a gift.  Today is a gift.  My home, the people who surround me, my health, the food in my cupboards, and that sunshine are all gifts.

Enjoy the moment

Once you allow yourself this moment, you realize that nothing is more important…not yesterday…not tomorrow.  This moment is a gift.  Enjoy it.

 

 

 

Morning Pages Become “Mourning” Pages

They came into the house together, my daughter and son-in-law.  Why?  It didn’t take long to find out.  They had news they needed to share…together!

They were offered a job.  They’ve accepted.  They’ll be moving away in October.

My initial thought was “I want to throw up!”

Instead, I picked up my grandson and gave him a hug.

I’m going to miss taking care of you three days a week.  I’m going to miss watching you grow.  And then, I walked away for a moment.

I wanted to just walk out the door; go home, crawl in bed, pull the blankets up over me…but first, drink a bottle of wine!

Collect yourself, Jane.  You need to let them tell the story.

And so, I walked back into the room.  Then, I found a way to say the right words:  “Life is short.  You have to do the things that make you happy while you can. This is a door (an opportunity) that has presented itself.  You’ll spend your life always wondering “what if” if you don’t walk through that door.  This will provide you with life lessons.  It’s meant to be.”

God, please help me to truly believe all of that.

I cried but hugged them both

Then, I found a way to drive home.  There, I sat with a glass of wine and a stomach ache.  I kept repeating the words I had found to say to them.

  • Life is short.
  • Everyone should do things that make them happy.
  • This is a door.
  • They would regret not walking through it.
  • This will provide life lessons.
  • It’s meant to be!

I prayed to God to just let me fall asleep

I slept.   And then the next morning, my clock radio woke me up to this particular part of this song by Rascal Flatts:

What hurts the most was being so close
And havin' so much to say
And watchin' you walk away
And never knowin' what could've been
And not seein' that lovin' you
Is what I was trying to do

The words say it. I’ve tried to tell my daughter before but it always came across as unsupportive. I want to support.  I thought I had been supporting.  They are walking away from nearly two years of open arms childcare.  They’re walking away from a willingness to continue indefinitely. I was ready to  welcome child number two.  I thought I was loving them the deepest, most profound way I possibly could.  And they are walking away from it all to live hundreds of miles away.

I wrote the words of the song down

in my morning pages and just sat there, looking at them.  And I cried again as I wrote the whole event out in longhand, dumping it onto paper, with all the anger and grief that filled me, hoping that I could find some relief from the pain.

After three pages, I wasn’t crying anymore.

I had moved on to the reality that my daughter is pregnant, has a two year old little boy and she is now moving away from her family, friends, a job she loves, and doctors she trusts.  Her burdens, right now, are heavier than mine.  She doesn’t need to carry me as well.  Stop crying in front of her.  Let her talk about her fears.  Be her mother!  I was able to support her through my divorce from her dad, his death, multiple boyfriend breakups, buying her first home, getting married, having her first baby.  I can support her through this.

She is trying to be a support for her husband.  She loves him and her family.  That doesn’t mean that she no longer loves me.  It also doesn’t me that she is walking away without appreciation for the things I’ve done over the past two years.  It’s time to let go.

And so I closed the journal

with a new resolve.  I closed my eyes for a minute.  They were burning from all the crying and too little sleep.  When I opened my eyes, I said to myself, “Alright, it’s time to open your arms up to your daughter this morning…

With a vow to help her walk through that door.

Today…Tomorrow…Yesterday

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Today…Tomorrow…Yesterday! What do I want to write about this morning? It’s interesting, when sadness or joy are not playing with me, there is a quiet in my brain; a dull almost lazy haze. Why does it take extremes to feel the energy of life? Why can’t this middle place be the most productive, the most inspiring time ever? I don’t need life to be thrilling or desperately sad, do I? I don’t want to always be out there at the end of the rope. But, now, here I sit, today, wondering “What is important enough to write about?”

I mean really, how many times can I describe how beautiful and smart my grandson is? How many times can I give an accounting of our time together (this week, we went to a sculpture garden and he hated it). How many times can I update this journal on my daughter’s wedding plans? (This week was the dress fitting and today we are polishing brass candle sticks). How many times can I write about my walks in the woods, the joy I feel from running into a deer along the way, the peaceful sense I get from simply walking and listening to the birds?

And why is it that this state, of neither too high nor too low, doesn’t last? It’s a prelude to something to come and I usually spend this time worrying that it’s going to be bad. So, this state of “calm” makes me restless! How can I enjoy it when what I do instead is spend the time with worry or guilt about something that might or already did happen.

What I need to do is find as much pleasure in this state as in that state of extreme. Love this place in my life for what it is. Empty is the wrong word. This place, in my life, is…free! That’s the word…FREE!

I am free of plans, worry, obligations, feelings of sadness, or despair, feelings of extreme elation, giddy silliness. I am simply FREE to ponder life. And so that is exactly how I intend to spend this moment. I am not going to spend it projecting worry on the future or feeling guilt about my past. I am going to spend it reflecting on the lessons of life and the beauty of my surroundings. I’m going to walk with appreciation for my family, my girls and their men, my grandson and soon to be new grandchild, for my sisters and my brother, for my people whom I believe to be friends. I will appreciate my life of good health, right now, and my ability to get out and enjoy it.

I am FREE to use this time to be productive. I don’t need to write a book or produce a piece of art. I can be productive by making healthy food choices and helping my daughter wash the bottles for her wedding, pay some bills and respond to emails. OR, I can use this time to read, to watch a movie, to walk and take pictures in the woods, to simply breathe in the warm summer air. It doesn’t matter, does it?

This space, in my life, is a gift.

And I will be present enough to simply say “Thank you”.