Call On The Butterfly When It’s Time To Change

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It’s Time For A Change

Time to once again find the courage to break free of a self-imposed cocoon. I need you right now, Butterfly.  Remind me:

Lighten up.  Stop taking everything so seriously. It’s time to make a change. In spite of the challenges, you’ll get through this transition…as always, remember, “this too shall pass”.  (Farmer, S.D., 2006)

Ok, ok. I can do this.

Every Single Time, I Freak Out!

I’ve lived long enough to have experienced change before.  Many times, actually.  Yet, every single time, my brain goes into “freak out” mode.  Still, still, I never ever let that fear stop me from making that change!  NEVER!

Sometimes, it slowed me down, though, I have to admit.  Fear is such a powerful force.  And, slowing down is actually not a bad response.  So I will say that fear can be a healthy thing, for a time.  But, fear should never be used as a REASON to stop you from changing.

So, over my life time, I have learned how to breathe through fear and embrace change.

Praying Through It All

You know, when I was a little kid, I was taught to say specific prayers.  Raised Catholic, I endured rosary after rosary and it was called “praying”.  I didn’t get it.  I wasn’t praying! I was simply barking out memorized lines of a chant.  “Hail Mary, full of grace, the lord is with thee…”  Over and over again, we would repeat these lines because we needed to ask God for forgiveness for our sins.

It wasn’t until I was older that I actually found the courage to tell my mother that I wanted to just talk to God, not say so many Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s.  She did not approve!  Still, it was then that I truly learned how to pray.  But for years, I didn’t pray because I thought praying was all about asking for something, begging for something and I didn’t think it was right to think that I deserved anything better than anyone else.  It was years later that I found that I could actually pray to God in thankfulness.  And I did, and I do most every night.

But then there are those times where I am going through a change and my brain is freaking out and I find myself begging for a sign that everything will be ok.  It was during one of these “freak out” sessions that I learned of Animal Spirit Guides by Steven D. Farmer.  It was at this moment that I felt, for the first time, that I could feel and see guidance from the spirit world.  And, for maybe the first time in my life, I felt that I didn’t have to push through a change on my own anymore.

Now, I talk to God but I also talk to family members who have passed before me.  I ask them for help freely.  And then I pay attention to the signs.  Most of the best signs I see in nature with the guidance of the Animal Spirit Guide and a set of cards.  Messages From Your Animal Spirit Guide by Steven Farmer is the deck of cards that I use on a regular basis.  And when I’m going through a change, I will get messages that may say things that include “go for it” to “slow down” or “step back to see the big picture”.

And Sure Enough, I Get Through It

Yes I do, with the help of my guides, I move through change with strength and conviction but also with thoughtful  reflection.  Fear does not define me.  Fear slows me down.  Fear tells me to proceed with caution but I don’t let fear stop me.  It’s when I feel fear that I reach out to God and all the spirits of my loved ones and say “I need help with this one. Please, tell me what to do.”  And then I listen.

Listen

Pay attention.  Messages are all around us.  Today, I needed the message of the Butterfly.  I am headed into another change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Words

 

It’s all been said before.
You’ve heard the words.

“Relax.
Go with the flow.
Just focus on today.
Take one moment at a time.”

Right? Right!

Words!
Just words!
No one can tell you how to handle this.
No one can feel what I feel.

Everything will be ok.
 Just breathe!
Focus on this moment.
Don’t worry about tomorrow.

But everything doesn’t feel ok.

It’s hard to breathe.

I can’t focus.

I am worried.

Ok.
I will listen.
I will be by your side.
Cry, if you need to.
I’ll hold your hand.
Scream if it helps.
I’ll understand.

Sometimes,
Silence
Is the best advice.

Sometimes,
Being present
Is the best friend.

The words will always be there.
They linger in the air
For just the right moment.
When I’m ready
They’ll be heard.

Finding My Flow

July 15, 2015
First in a series of journal entries that 
mark my path through a deep and hurtful change.
Writing, in a journal, each 
day helped me see my thoughts
on paper and guided me to my strength.

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Breathe deep!  Just let life happen.  I knew it would come.  It was inevitable but still my gut aches. My head pounds.  My body feels heavy.  I need to find that place inside me that gives me the strength to move through “this” because “this” will happen whether I move through it or not.  That is how life goes.  Life moves, keeps moving…forward.  I choose to go with that flow or become a puddle off to the side, where, of course, I will soon dry up and disappear.  Right at this moment, I’m leaning towards the puddle idea.  That’s how my body feels, that’s what my head wants me to do, pull out of the flow.  You, kind of, think that if you do that, you will somehow be missed and “this” flow of life might reconsider because it wants you in it.  But who are you kidding?  Flow doesn’t stop to notice a leak.  And, you are just a small leak in a massive, powerful flow.  Don’t think that you have the power to make a difference in this forward movement.  So, it might be better to just go with the flow.   But what does that mean?

The current has changed.  The direction has changed.  I will not be in the front, now, helping to lead the way.  I will be further back…important but not necessary.  Does that make sense?  Well, it does to me.  These are powerful forces that have picked up your movement and added new energy to it.  Your work to get to this spot was, indeed, important but the new force can take it from here.  You are being told: “You can stay in the flow, if you want.  Thank you very much for your service, but we can take it from here.  We’ll always remember and appreciate the work you have done.”

Stay with the flow or go?  Stay with the flow or go?  How much strength do you have?  You don’t need to be a small leak that puddles off to the side.  You could forge a new route of your own.  It’s, for sure, scary.  I mean, what if you don’t have enough strength to cut through the rugged terrain?  It’s also lonely.  I will have to have strong conviction and belief that I can do this alone because I have no guarantee of followers.

Stay with the flow or go? Am I a follower or a leader? Do I really want life to just happen or do I want some control?  It’s scary.  It’s lonely.  But, right now, I am basically just going with the flow and I don’t like the lack of control.  Some days, I’m important.  Other days, I’m in the way.

Ok, I will not block forward progress but I think, no I believe, that I am a leader.  I forge my own destiny.

Stand up straight, then.  Be strong, focused, energized.  It’s time to choose your own adventure.  It’s time to follow your own light. And don’t be surprised if you find out that you had actually been a drag on their flow.  Celebrate your skill, your own power, your own freedom.  Let them celebrate their’s.  Let life flow as it should.  Now get out there and find your own flow.

Did I Choose That Path or Did That Path Choose Me?

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Originally posted in 2015 – Time to revisit this message

My life has been the ultimate journey.  I’ve heard it said that your life is a series of choices.

But really:

Do you actually get to plan your trip?

Do you really get to lead your life your way or …

Do you simply follow paths that are laid out for you?

I Was Not A Planner

I remember realizing, during my junior year of high school, that my friends had plans to go to college.  What?  I hadn’t even given it a thought!  Good god!  I visited the guidance counselor for the first time, about then, saying something like “HELP!  Should I be going to college?”

Two years later, I was in college and started out in the Business School.  Why?  Because, I don’t know.  It sounded like a good idea, and I had to start somewhere.  It didn’t take long to realize that I actually hated business classes and there I was, sitting on the floor of my shared apartment, combing through a course catalog trying to find something that sounded interesting.  Did I plan on the field of education or was I guided there?  I don’t know.  Did I choose to leave the field of business or were my lack-luster grades telling me to GET OUT while I still have a grade point average of some kind?

Subtle little messages along life’s pathway are not planned.  They’re just there.  When I got married, did I plan to get a divorce?  Not at all.  Yet there it was.  And when I retired from thirty plus years in education, did I plan to walk away from a beautiful new house to move to a little apartment?  Ummm.  NO!

Planning Without A Plan

I’ve never gone on a vacation without some forethought.  I  choose the destination and pack accordingly.  I also take enough money to allow me options once I arrive.  However, I never enjoyed vacations where too many things were preplanned.  And, it’s been that way with my life as well.

Of course, there is fore thought that goes into choosing a career, getting married, or having children, but beyond that initial “plan” there are no guarantees.  And so, I have learned to plan without a plan.  I plan for things to change.  I plan for surprises.  I plan to sometimes be disappointed and sometimes be pleasantly surprised.

Feeling Blessed To Be Alive

I come from a family burdened with heart disease and cancer.  My father died when I was in 7th grade, my mother when I was a brand new mom.  Since then, two brothers have passed away and one more brother had a severe heart attack and has had triple bypass surgery.  Add to all of that, my girl’s father gave up on life, choosing suicide, instead.

I need to simply be thankful for each day.  I know that I can not choose every path my life takes but I can choose what I do…today!  I choose to be happy.  I choose to accept life as it is.  I choose to reflect light.

I Choose To Breathe In Positive Thoughts

I produced this video during a time when I could have been depressed.  Instead, by some miracle, I found myself living on the edge of this beauty.  Some people, who live in this same apartment complex, have never stepped into this woods.  They say “It’s too hot!  There are so many mosquitos!”

I, on the other hand, chose to follow the paths and listen to the messages that were  there to guide my way.  If I hadn’t done that, I would never have seen the beauty that lived right outside my back 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”.

Today, I Am An Athlete

Yea, right. Everyone, who knows me, is laughing, like hell, right now! She just called herself an athlete? HA!

I was the kid who was picked last for any game in gym class. I’m the one who joined a coed volleyball team, as an adult, and at the end-of-season social gathering, silly prizes were distributed. My prize was a rag; given to me to represent all the time I spent on the floor, ducking to get away from that volleyball. They said, “As long as you’re down there, you might as well keep the floor dry for us.” Later in my life, I bought a bike. I took it for a ride. It was a scenic ride, through a wooded area, but it was totally downhill. I had the brakes on the entire time, gripping them with everything in my being. I have, now, moved the bike to three different homes, but haven’t gotten on it since. More years pass. I get older, weigh more (too much) so I decide to join a gym. Looking back on that early experience, I think that I must have assumed that just being in the gym was exercise enough because this was my routine…I took along my Kindle with my favorite book loaded, propped it up on the treadmill and started to walk, slowly enough so that 1) I could easily read my book and 2) I didn’t sweat. I wasn’t a fan of sweating. Well, needless to say, I never lost any weight or got any stronger. Instead, I grew tired of the trip to the gym just to read a book. So, you must be really wondering, now,  why I have chosen this metaphor for myself today. It doesn’t seem to fit…at all!

I chose this metaphor because, I think, deep down we all want to be athletes and we want to be winners. This week, watching the NCAA Championship game gave me the opportunity to witness true, driving athleticism. It was a visible display of focus, intent, and power. I could tell that the skill didn’t come from wishes and hopes or weak attempts but, instead, from practice and determination to be the best and then more practice and more determination because you can always be better. In the end, my team didn’t win the game, but, oh yes, they did! They showed thousands of people what being an athlete really means. It means believing that you are a winner. It means, remaining humble and lighthearted when the pressure to succeed grows intense. It means staying focused on one goal at a time. It means never giving up. It means pushing yourself well past the point of tired. And, it means being proud of what you’ve accomplished, even if you don’t hold the “winning” trophy at the end. This team won our hearts. They were, indeed, true winners!

I think I’m finding that kind of winner in me!

What is your motivator? For me, the motivation, that finely pushed me, was frustration and anger. I was frustrated with the voices that said that I lacked coordination, was too weak, and too old to change. It made me angry when I heard those voices saying that I just needed to accept the fact that getting older means accepting weakness, aches, and pains as normal for my age. Frustration and anger became my motivation to put myself back in the game.

Today, I sweat through cardio exercises, push myself through squats, am working on the tightest abs I’ve had since I turned 40 and I lift weights, a little heavier each time. Initially, there was that voice saying, “You can’t do this!” but there was another, more positive voice saying “Yes, you can. Just try.” With a mix of feelings; frustration, surprise, joy…and pain, I realized that sweating can make you smile. Some days, I struggle more than others but that positive voice is there, saying “Just 5 more. You can do it…4, 3, 2…come on “I’ve got you.” And, when I finish, I am ecstatic! And that voice says, “You just burned through another level.”

Some days my muscles sing in pure pain but I hear those positive words ringing through loud and clear, “What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you.” So, again I smile. That’s why I think that, today, I can call myself an athlete. I’m not a mountain of muscle, but I’m growing stronger every day. I hurt, but so do others, and they still show up with determination and I can too! Some days, I’m slower, but I keep moving. This challenge is not a race. I’m not competing with anyone but me. And what’s most important is that I show up.

But, now, it’s about more that physical fitness. I want to be in this big game, called Life! So, I’ve added that to my goal. Pushing through exercises is preparing me to take whatever other burdens are placed on my shoulders and push through it. Life hands out some pretty heavy weights, at times, throwing you off balance, sometimes moving you to tears. But, if an athlete shows determination, focus, and drive, then that’s what I have to do. If an athlete is disappointed, even heartbroken, by a loss, they don’t quit, instead they  review the loss for it’s lessons, and go out and play again and again. An athlete says “I am a winner”. A failure one day is just that, a failure one day. They don’t all of a sudden say “I am a failure.”  They get up and try again. So, they never really lose. A score on the board (or on the scale) is just a number. I want to be the kind of winner who walks away, in the end, stinking with sweat but so damn proud of how well I played the game. Today, I am a winner. And I will push myself to keep saying that every day for the rest of my life. I must be an athlete!

Now, I’d better get up, out of this chair, and go for a walk. And, I should put air in those bicycle tires.

Go Ahead, Sail Off Into The Future

Sail
See how far you get

Looking out on the horizon, when you’re young, you are confident that you’re sailing towards great things; you know, that pot at the end of the rainbow. that buried treasure. During my generation, I assumed that I had to start at the bottom of the ladder and work my way up but when I wasn’t at the top by the time I reached 50, I got impatient and resorted to dreams of winning the lottery. Then I’d have that pot of gold, by, say, tomorrow! And then, I could just go out and buy that fabulous life. I mean, come on, now, I’m 50 years old! Well, I waited for that instant wealth, but, still, I had to go about the day to day business of sailing the vessel that I had, in the meantime. I’ve never been fond of water. I don’t swim well, at all, so thinking about being on a sailboat out on open water, with all of the elements, makes me just quiver. But, symbolically, it is a perfect way to talk about life’s journey.
So, now, I reflect on my life as a sailor. I knew, kind of, that I needed a plan (map), the right tools, and the skills to sail. But life doesn’t automatically set you up with those things. I actually had to put this all together myself?
Again, this is a big ah-hah that I’ve learned now that I’m old and know what it’s like to get on that damn boat without all of the above.
I suppose someone told me that going off and sailing my own boat wasn’t going to be easy but you know, kids! I assumed all those “old people” were just trying to scare me to keep me stuck at home.
For me, I went sailing off to college, with all my graduation presents (still in boxes) to set up my first dorm room; a brand new clock radio, a portable hair dryer, and a new portable typewriter. My new three piece luggage set carried all, and I mean all, of my clothes and other valuables. I was ready! Let’s do this college thing.
But then, I got to my designated room only to find out that my roommate was the floor monitor which meant that she was a Senior and was supposed to have the room to herself only there were too many new Freshman. That meant that she was forced to share her room with me! So, guess what, she was mad. She had also been told that I was a non-smoker but she was a smoker so now she was going to have to leave her own room to find a place to smoke. Lucky for her, I had taken up the habit over the summer and when she found that out she didn’t think I was half bad after all. That was the only time, I think, that smoking worked in my favor. Still, she didn’t plan on hanging out with me much. I mean, really! I was just a freshman; such a newbie that I had to read the directions that came with my new clock radio to figure out how to set the alarm!
My mother thought that college was a waste of time for a girl so it didn’t help that I had no plan for a major. I guess I thought I’d figure it out as I went along. And sure enough I did. There were little clues along the way that rocked my boat but pointed me in the right direction. For instance, I found myself begging one teacher for a “C”. The course was accounting. Did you know that the role of debits and credits change depending out which side of the ledger you are looking at? I promised him that I’d leave the school of business if he’d just pass me. I was drowning in assignment due dates, test after test, after test. My ship was rocking in a sea, of courses, that I didn’t even like! It was the end of my Sophomore year that I decided to pick up a map and plot the course. What a concept!
I charted out a course and found myself in calmer waters for the rest of my college days. In fact, for a period of time, there, I even got to enjoy the peacefulness of sailing and the beauty of a sunset or two.
Still, you know, it probably would have been wiser to get my sea legs steady, on a little boat, on a smaller body of water, rather than putting that sailboat into the ocean and just trusting that there would be enough wind and that the wind would take me to my destination, when even I didn’t know where my destination was.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I set sail and then veered off course, sometimes on purpose, sometimes purely by accident. I can tell you that even when I did plan out the course, it wasn’t a given that it would be smooth sailing. Usually, the storms took me by surprise and some of them threw me around wildly before tossing me up onto to shoreline and there I’d be, looking around, thinking “how the hell did I get here? This wasn’t part of the itinerary.” And “friends” would seem to come out from behind the rocks, everywhere, to say “Well, I could have told you that would happen.” or worse yet “I TOLD YOU THAT WOULD HAPPEN but you didn’t listen.”

But, sometimes, these events feel like some kind of cosmic occurrence, pushing you whether you like it or not.  And, it’s here, right here, where we decide our course.  Our response.  Do we push against the current or let the tide take us? This is exactly where I was and how I felt about my divorce.  I was in the middle of a storm, and I felt the wave pushing me, throwing me. Then, there would be periodic calm spells, time to collect my thoughts and almost enough calm for me to turn back but then the winds started blowing again and now, instead of being pushed, I was being pulled into my destiny. I don’t think, at that point, I could have stopped it.  But, you know what, I could have.  I could have turned back, avoided the storm. And then what?  Then I would have been left, back on the beach, left to live in the body of a person I wasn’t destined to be.  I know too many people who have denied their storm, too afraid to let the winds take them to their next destination.  I see them, now, as empty shells, trying to figure out why God abandoned them.  So they, in turn, abandon God.

I know that people who call themselves “Friends” try to convince you that you’re headed in the wrong direction but if your inner voice is strong you need to just stay the course, remain calm in the middle of your storm.  I know I didn’t want to end up an empty shell, feeling discarded on the beach.  I needed to continue to develop my inner pearl. So, I sailed, again and again, metaphorically speaking, because that’s what you do. It’s like the song sung by Garth Brooks called “The River” (1992).

The River
by
Garth Brooks

You know a dream is like a river
Ever changin’ as it flows
And a dreamer’s just a vessel
That must follow where it goes
Trying to learn from what’s behind you
And never knowing what’s in store
Makes each day a constant battle
Just to stay between the shores…and

I will sail my vessel
‘Til the river runs dry
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky
I’ll never reach my destination
If I never try
So I will sail my vessel
‘Til the river runs dry

Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away
‘Til what we put off ’til tomorrow
Has now become today
So don’t you sit upon the shoreline
And say you’re satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance the tide

There’s bound to be rough waters
And I know I’ll take some falls
But with the good Lord as my captain
I can make it through them all…yes

I will sail my vessel
‘Til the river runs dry
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky
I’ll never reach my destination
If I never try
So I will sail my vessel
‘Til the river runs dry.

Today, I Am A Carpenter

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You build your life, one day at a time. I wish I’d known that.

Life is a funny thing, isn’t it? You don’t realize that you are building something until you look back on it. “Wow, if someone had told me that I was building my future, I would have taken school more seriously.” Oh, people tell you along the way, but it’s hard to hear some things when you’re busy pounding away.
When I was little, I was probably told that I was too little to cross the street by myself. I didn’t hear that. What I heard, instead, was my friends asking if I wanted to go to the candy store because they had a little money and wanted to treat us. I got the candy…and a spanking!
When I was in high school, I’m sure someone told me that studying was necessary to actually get A’s. What I heard was, “C’s are good average grades.” I was the perfect example of how telling someone that “you will need this someday” didn’t motivate me to take my job more seriously.
And so it went throughout my early life. There were, probably, messages all around me, I’m sure, but did I hear them?
I was busy trying to figure out how to not sweat while working on a project. I didn’t like to sweat. At the time, I was a carpenter building shanties, leaving behind little piles of rubble everywhere I went. I can see, now, that I was trying to figure out what kind of life I wanted to build. Practice is necessary for that. The shanties were my practice.
Now, I’ve reached a point in my life where I see the little piles. The shanties are long gone, having disappeared into the earth along with the shanties quickly erected, for practice, by others. Then I see, other structures that I erected; a little more sturdy but each remodeled often. I’m still a carpenter apprentice. I built my first life thinking it would fit my needs, only I outgrew it.
I didn’t realize that what I was building was a very important life. It wasn’t just my life that I was building. My younger brother and sister were watching everything that I built. While they wanted to build their own structures, I was modeling one way for them. I didn’t realize that. I maybe would have tried harder to do a good job!
When I started my career as a special education teacher, I was laying out the building plans for every child I taught in their early elementary years. I was pouring the foundation for each and everyone that I touched. In the eyes of the parents, I was probably seen as the general contractor. They looked to me to know what products (tools and skills) would stand the test of time. The students had no idea that I’d never poured a foundation before. Some of the parents knew, but still they trusted that I could do it. Now I look back on those days and thank God because it had to be God who guided me through those first years; God and the Physical Education teacher. It was that person who showed me where the school supply closet was and how the past special education teacher used books from there for her students. I’ll never forget the principal coming into my first classroom as I was attempting to draw a tree, freehand, for a bulletin board. I think his exact words were “Not much of an artist are you?” Again, luckily, over time my skills improved (and I found an overhead projector).
Then I became a mom. Now, my understanding of parenting came directly from Dr. Spock in those days. My own mother shared lessons that I didn’t want to use, while Dr. Spock seemed to be on every other young parent’s coffee table. Well, I read this book like it was my blueprint. I read, now, that this man was later seen as the reason for moral decline in youth and the rise of criminal behavior. However, I saw him as being totally bent on schedules and structure and I blame Dr. Spock for telling me to let my baby just cry if it appeared nothing was wrong. He said that it was good exercise. I followed every design detail. Today, I have apologized to my oldest daughter for letting her cry for hours on end. Luckily, she doesn’t remember. I must have replaced that rough material with something a little more polished by the time she was old enough to remember. Either that or the experience was a good one for her because, today, she is strong and powerful. Maybe it was good exercise.
As time went on, I was trusted with the task of being a general contractor (principal) for a whole construction crew (teachers). And what did I do? I had learned that it was important to have blueprints. It was important to have the right tools. It was important to go slow and follow a step by step process. It would be easier that way.
I told them that they were “Building A New Tomorrow”. I said “Today, you are a carpenter.”