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.”

Life Is A Metaphor

Life is a metaphor

A day to day interaction between things, events, and people; all presented to you as a living lesson. Pay attention and you will see that you are surrounded by messages right there just waiting for you to listen to them.

Years ago, I was drawn to metaphors to help me guide a school staff through changing times. The symbolism worked as a way to visualize the journey and organize the path. Over the past years, I have been reflecting on my life and found writing as a way to pour thoughts out and then edit. Was this what I really wanted to say? At one point, I looked  at the themes that I had used with my staff and felt that perhaps there was something there that could help me make sense, once again, of my changing times.   And so, I begin again to organize my own path through the use of metaphors.  Perhaps my journey will help others.  It has definitely helped me.

Please Enjoy

Today I Am A Carpenter

Go Ahead, Sail Off Into The Future

Is Your Life A Dream Catcher Or A Spider Web?

Life Is A Game

Today, I Am An Athlete

Surrounded By Love

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Everything, in my life, is unfolding as it should, I suppose.

No, I believe!  I am sitting here, on a bitterly cold Friday, feeling the warmth of a blanket but also of my surroundings. And I think, “how did I get here?”

Life’s journey

Hard, emotional bumps; heck, some of those bumps were not bumps at all, they were real honest to God mountains!  My wall carries photos of those mountains as a reminder with the quote that says

“Promise me you will always remember…you are braver than  you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

It’s a quote from Christopher Robin to Pooh.

I sit today, looking out a patio door at a woods filled with deer and the message of the deer is to

“Be gentle with yourself”

I try.  I try. Yet, I carry, with me, baggage.  A friend of mine, from long ago said “Everyone has their own bag of shit.”  It was the bluntness of that comment, I guess, that sticks with me to this day and I’ve even heard my daughter pass that bit of wisdom on to others as well.  And so, it is.  I am not special.  My baggage is not heavier than your’s but I am trying to find a way to carry it so that the weight is distributed evenly, I think.

Yet, at this moment, on this day…

I look around me and I feel so “guided”.  I think that’s the best word.  You know all those times in life when you feel like you are truly being tested?  And, you know that you will choose a path.  You have to!  So many times, I felt as though I had chosen the wrong path but, there I was, so I had to deal with it.  Now, as I reflect back, I see that it was a test. But, I also, feel, now in retrospect, that I heard of voice.

People call it an “inner voice”

It was that voice that gave me strength, power, decisiveness, resilience, and belief in myself. It was that voice that guided me down those paths that felt so wrong.  It was that voice that guided me here.

And so now, I sit here, listening to music by Jonathan Louis called “Follow The Path”; beautiful meditative music that leaves me feeling so blessed at this moment.  I look around me, at this little apartment and

I study the view from my chair

  • On one wall, I have a collage of photos that I captured from my walks in woods.  Those walks helped me learn how to take deep breaths and stay focused on the moment.  Messages surrounded me as I learned how to just listen to that inner voice.
  • The patio door faces that woods and delights me every day with views of life, even on the coldest, snowiest days. The deer pass by daily and cardinals are ever present at the feeders.
  • My “mountain” photos will always be on a wall and serve as a reminder that nothing, in life, comes without struggle,
  • But underneath those photos stand other messages, as well, to remember to be gentle with myself (from the deer) and life is as colorful and creative as you make it (from the cardinal).
  • And then, there are the photos of the people I love most in the world with a little sign that says “You Make Me Happy When Skies Are Grey”. They are my life, right now, and I am so thankful for them.
  • The last place that my eyes rest on, every day, is a table (an old high school typing table) with the exact typewriter used by my mother, not only during her high school class but throughout her life as she creatively captured the moments of her life.  Next to her typewriter stands an owl.  She always gave me owls.  She decided that I was her “wise old owl”.  I think it was because my mother and I never got along that I rejected this as an actual compliment.  I never kept her gifts of owls and, yet now, when I have the ability to place only the things of most importance to me in this room, there sits an owl next to her typewriter.  It is my way of saying “Thank you” to her for being so important in making me the person I am today.

And I think, right now, as I sit here alone,

I am so surrounded by love

So, Where Was I?

Hanging Upside Down

I know. I know.  It’s winter time and I should post a photo of pine trees and snow.  What am I thinking?

Well, what I’m thinking is that this is the 3rd winter in my new life and what I want to write about is how important it is to sometimes turn your life upside down to start over.  Three years ago, I did just that.  Hanging there, upside down, makes everything look different, that’s for sure.  Turns out, though, it’s not a bad difference at all.

So, long…long…long story short – Retire, Divorce, Move, Lose Weight, Become a Grandma.  There’s more but that’s the gist of it.  All in three years.  And, I am here to smile about it because three years ago, I was carrying around weight;  physically, mentally, emotionally, and materialistically. Now, I carry only the things I choose to carry and believe me, it all weighs so much less.

I let go of marriage.  I do not need to be with someone to be complete.  Well, I do have a cat!  I  let go of home ownership.  Do you know that you can just call the office if your toilet overflows and they send someone to clear the clog AND clean up the floor?  I let go of alcohol.  I was kidding myself about how much I was drinking.  I was telling myself that I had no problem with it.  I lied!

Then I started  taking photos of the animals out my back door.  Cardinals, squirrels, chipmunks and DEER!  Amazing photos through that protective glass door.  And then I started reading, and writing.  Animal Speaks by Ted Andrews and Animal Spirit Guides by Steven Farmer.  I didn’t know that there was a way to connect in this way.  The  messages that I read; first of the cardinal, then the squirrels, then chipmunk, then finally that deer helped me gain the courage to actually walk out that glass door and into the woods.

In the woods, I learned to breathe again.  It’s in the woods that I see other symbols of messages, whether they are sent to me or I am just thinking them up as I go, they work to calm my spirit.  Paths are logically symbolic of all the different choices a person has in life; that one was easy.  Then, I found myself looking at trees and seeing the knots and scars of hard lives.  Yet they still reach up towards the light.  I see a pond full of cluttered green mossy bloom and still see that lily push right on through all of it.  I see turtles just going with the flow, and birds singing out happy tunes and flowers blooming any way they want to.

And I am at peace.  Life is good.

Gentle Spirit

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Be Gentle With Yourself

     I walk the woods nearly every day. They know me. We look each other in the eye and I say, “It’s ok. I am a good person.” And then they stand and        wait while I take their picture. They are not afraid.

I walk gently through their home, trying to be respectful of their surroundings. They, in turn, welcome me with that soft, gentle look.

In the books regarding the language of animals, it is said that the deer carry the message that we should be gentle with ourselves. I feel that sense when I look into their eyes. And as I walk on, I feel that message resonate through me. There is no reason for me to be hard on myself. I am just a humble being, here to carry out my life’s mission.

Over time, I have wondered what exactly my mission was. Sometimes, I felt as though I was lost in a sea of carrying out other people’s needs.  Is that my mission?  If so, than I often felt inadequate. With each failed attempt to be the person someone wanted me to be, I feel a sense of guilt, frustration, and anger.  I just want to do my life.

But, what is my life?

And then, here I am greeted by the deer with this message to be gentle with myself.

Finally, I breath deep and say, “Ok, ok.  I hear you.”  I can just take it one step at a time.  I don’t need to know the answers to everything right now.  I can simply believe that things will happen as they are supposed to happen and I will live the life I was sent here to live.

I need to simply love being me.