moving slowly

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
― Confucius

I’ve been moving slowly for a very long time. But, I’ve been moving.

The clock dawdles, or so it seems, when you’re waiting for change. If you’re watching and waiting, it may be times are hard and you’re looking for a better situation. Something that makes you happy to wake up in the morning.

At times the challenges may be so overwhelming you need time to recuperate. Recovering from an unfamiliar and frightening situation can be difficult, to say the least. We seek safety and comfort first, and change second.

That’s what happened to me a few years ago. I found myself overwhelmed by circumstances over which I truly had no control. I wasn’t sure who my friends were, and out of fear they’d all deserted me, I avoided everyone.

Eventually things began to right themselves.

A close friend reached out to me and told me the truth about what others were thinking. It was good. I found new friends, a new job, and for the first time in 15 years, I bought a new car.

I learned something through all of this. Before we can truly move forward, we need a level of security. Simply finding that solid strength within ourselves can be moving forward, despite how a lack of change in circumstances may appear to others.

There were those in my life frustrated by my slow recovery. Thankfully, others recognized how lost I was and how much healing I really needed.

If you’re struggling,

sunrise in savanna_

whatever your situation, allow time to restore your energies, and forgive yourself for not bouncing back like a child’s punching toy clown. Some things aren’t meant to be rushed. The smallest step is enough.

When times are hard, our hope is in anticipation of a promising future. It’s there, waiting for us. Life works that way. Can I guarantee that for everyone? No, that’s not within my power. But it’s what I’ve seen in the lives of those closest to me, especially friends I’ve known for decades.

Every move forward, now matter how slow, is taking you where you want to go. And really, we don’t always know how far we’re going to have to go anyway. The next step may surprise us with unexpected joy.


Image Credit:(top) hourglass © Alexey Klementiev; sky © Pakhnyushchyy; lights © mehmetcanturkei; background © averroe — All, stock.adobe.com. (Bottom) © GraphicStock.com

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moving forward

Earlier this week I alluded to the “rabbit’s hole” I speak of in this post.  In honor of a new era,  I’m reposting this piece, a favorite of mine:

A few weeks ago I found myself sitting alone in a crowd, anxiously searching for a familiar face.

I was expecting a friend–until her text  told me not to. Now I was faced with sitting by myself at a celebratory service that would no doubt be an emotional, spiritual, uplifting experience (it was). I started looking for anyone I might know, a bit nervous but not wanting to seem so.

Thankfully, someone did appear, a more than gregarious man, well-known for being a bit of a character.  I’d only met him once for all of thirty seconds, but I didn’t hesitate to call out his name and invite him to join me. He did, and it made that service a whole heck of a lot of fun.

It wasn’t until days later it hit me:

this was not only the first time I’d had the courage to do something that bold, but I hadn’t thought twice about it. For years I’d sat alone in services and what-have-you, often because I was too frightened to reach out to someone and ask them to join me.

This was another significant change in me I could count as the result of terrible betrayal.

All my life I struggled with being pushed around by co-workers, boyfriends, classmates, even family. I simply could not stand up for myself. Try as I might, I was unable to say what needed to be said, or even imagine what that should be. Instead I would stand there, dumbstruck, humiliated and frustrated.

I desperately wanted the ability to detect when others were pushing me around.

That is, if I were sharp enough to see what was going on. Sometimes I’d be pushed pretty far before I realized it.

When that happened, I was left with shrinking further or getting back at people, although more often than not they brought on their own trouble with their back-handed behavior. I didn’t like dealing with things either way, however, it never felt good.

Instead, I desperately wanted the ability to detect when others were pushing me around and belittling me long before it got out of hand. More than that, I wanted to project an attitude that precluded demeaning treatment. I just couldn’t come by it. I had no idea how it worked.

Eventually I was pushed down a rabbits’ hole into a hell that wouldn’t end,

and it was that experience (a story requiring too much detail to go into here) that finally gave me the insight and ability to stay ahead of those who would defeat me. It took a long time, well after the peak of the horror, to fully develop the skills to face others with confidence and enough of a take-it-or-leave-it attitude that I could claim victory. Have I fully stepped away from the problem? Likely not, but I’ve figured out what steps to take.

I also realize I need to use those circumstances to my advantage, to work toward bringing me to a point where I can say, “well, I wouldn’t want to go through that again, but I’m glad it happened.”

I’m not sure when, if ever, I’ll be there, but I look to the good that’s come of out this, and it has been substantial. I used to resent being told “everything happens for a reason.”  While I believe good can come from bad, that doesn’t justify the bad.

I like what Dumas had to say. It acknowledges the bad, but gives proper credit to an overwhelming and affirming end result:

“Women are never so strong as after their defeat.”
― Alexandre Dumas, Queen Margot, or Marguerite de Valois

blue sky balloons

I hate that it took such drastic circumstances to bring about this change for me, and I sometimes wonder, if those events hadn’t conspired, would I still be where I was then, or would I have found another way to grow to where I am today?

I don’t want those responsible for my plight to believe there’s any justification to their actions. Likely they would have preferred I was left in defeat and despair anyway. Is success the best revenge? I don’t know that I’m seeking revenge, but success is by far the best outcome.


Image Credits: Butterfly field (Field of Daisies) © adimas – Fotolia; (Butterfly) © ecco — Fotolia; Balloons Flying High (Sky Background) © Andrii Salivon – Fotolia; (Balloons) © JRB – Fotolia.

the art of being my mother

Centered on the living room wall when I was growing up was a drawing that tore at me. It was of a woman, clearly weary, her head in one hand looking off to her left, a sleeping child draped over the other arm.

Not sure what was going  on here, but it was clearly important.
Not sure what was going on here, but it was clearly important.

While I now see the beauty in this art, as a child I believed my mother identified with it because of her own weariness with her lot in life, namely, me, and I felt a great deal of guilt over what I’d done to her.

We didn’t get along, my mother and me, until after my stepfather died when I was 28. By her own admission, her focus then changed from wife to mother.  It took us years to work through all the barriers. Issues remain today, but they aren’t the structure of our relationship.

I see her getting older and I’m constantly mindful of the fact she’s only a few years away from the age her parents were when they died. She’s on a fixed income and can barely afford her own needs month to month, yet she still jumps at the chance to give to me.

That’s what moms do, I guess, at least it’s what my mom does. I resisted it inside myself until I realized how important it was to her. I turn around and send her money when I can to help her in any small way.

A few years ago I went through terrible times, and it left its mark on me long after that. I was so deep in the pain of it myself I didn’t fully realize what my mom went through each day, wondering what I was undergoing and imagining the worst.

I need to keep to myself what is mine to know.

I hold back on telling her everything because it is too difficult to express. I don’t know that she should know all the details. I need to keep to myself what is mine to know.

Perhaps she did identify with the woman in that drawing, for reasons I’ll never really know. As one of the few pieces of art she’s kept through the years, it seemingly has meant something to her. Just as I don’t fully involve her in my experience, certainly she hasn’t fully involved me in hers.

I told her once, in a moment of reflection, what it had made me feel, and she simply said, “Really? I never knew.” Then smiled a little. “I always loved that picture.”

Danger, There’s a Breakthrough Straight Ahead

I want change in my life. And I want it now.

Problem is, some of the changes I want don’t come that easily. I look at where I am today compared to where I was three years ago, and there are some remarkable differences. There are also, annoyingly, some things that have stayed the same, and I’m uncertain how to move forward with those.

I’ve written before I believe in the power of subtle changes, and I maintain that thought. Those are the changes that can lead to the opportunities for a flash of major turnover in your life, opportunities that don’t present themselves often, but when they do, it’s so important to be prepared.

Blue Sky

It’s also critical to be open to the pain involved sometimes with moving forward. I’m facing a moment like that right now, and I don’t know how to approach it. I don’t know how to measure the problem, and therefore how to address the solution. I’m asking for help, but I don’t know if I trust those who have offered to provide me with that assistance.

So I rely on prayer and wisdom from others. Asking myself what I would say to someone if they presented me with the same questions I’m asking of those who I believe can guide me.

And putting my confusion in writing, and leaving it behind.

 


Breakthrough


Photo Credit — © Bigstock.com


With thanks to Boz Scaggs for inspiring the title…and for a darn good song, too

Perfectly Me

While my hand is healing, I’m bringing out some favorite posts from the past many of you may not have seen. This was first posted in December, 2015.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.”
― W.C. Field

rollerskating girl
Not me. Not now, not ever.

I can’t roller skate.  Nor can I bowl,  or do a pull-up. I don’t expect to ever be able to do any of those things, and they’re no longer important to me. At one time they were, and that stayed with me for way too long. But I’ve gotten over it and accepted my limitations.

I didn’t stop trying to learn how to bowl until I was in my 30s, when finally someone told me it was acceptable not to have that particular skill.

He didn’t word it quite like that, however. We were at a bowling alley with a group from church, and he was splitting his time between reading a book and talking to others.  When I mentioned what a terrible bowler I was, he shrugged his shoulders and said, with a laugh, “Who cares? It’s not something I want to be known for anyway.”

Okay, a bit snobby. It did lead me to think, however, is this really me? Is it a goal of mine to be a better bowler, or is everyone else in my circle telling me it should be?

There’s a point where you ceaselessly persevere, and there’s a point where you say, is that even a skill I truly want to master? I had no real interest in bowling, I’d just been told over and over not to give up, I could do it if I tried.

But I couldn’t. I tried and tried, and my body would not cooperate. What’s more, I likely never would have gotten to a point where, even if I could hold my own in a game, I would have looked forward to it. I did not want to bowl.

Once I figured out that hanging onto a group of friends whose main activities I didn’t enjoy was fruitless, I was a lot happier. It took some time, but gradually I developed friendships with people whose faces lit up when they talked about doing the same things I wanted to do.

happy dance girl
Yes, I know, this isn’t a waltz!

That’s not to say I’ll always avoid everything I’m not particularly good at doing. I would love to be able to dance, an old-fashioned waltz, perhaps, but it’s fair to say even at my best I won’t be entering any contests. That’s not my goal, at least not at this point. Right now I’d be happy to keep the beat.

(I have learned something about dancing over the years…call it sexist, or call it practical, but as we all know, men lead. With a strong lead, even a woman who isn’t a good dancer looks good. So half my battle will be finding the right partner.)

I’m not limiting myself only to friends who share my interests, either. Some of my best friends (a-hem) are bowlers, and good ones at that.

I don’t have to be the best, or even particularly good, at any given skill to enjoy doing it. I have my expert talents, and I have those I fumble with.  It’s that mix of abilities and experience that makes me who I am, perfectly me.

Break Gently

“funny how our hearts
were designed
to love
so fiercely.

but break
ever so gently.”
― Sanober Khan

Break gently, heart of mine.

I will not love again until I am certain I won’t make the same mistakes.”

But I can never be certain of that, for I am always the same person.

And I will love again.

I will.


Photo Credit: © Prakapenka — Bigstock


Fierce

As I Appear Before You

How do I know who you are? And what do you know about me by looking at me?

As I write this, I’m wearing clothes that need a good wash, my hair is in desperate need of styling, and any makeup I put on earlier today has worn off. I need some groceries, but I hesitate to head to the store. I don’t want to be judged by my appearance. It probably wouldn’t be complimentary.

AdobeStock_98604038 [Converted]

Yet even at my best, my most cleaned up, there are going to be those who judge me in a negative way.

Just as so many make assumptions about others. We all do it to a certain extent, sum a person up with our first impressions. That quick assessment is based on our beliefs and previous experiences, and is likely to be limited and narrow.

You won’t know me until you talk to me, and even then it will take some time. You won’t know me until you see me in separate circumstances, and most people don’t have that opportunity.

We have our beliefs about others that are tidily summed up in stereotypes. The Germans are stoic, if you’re from Latin America, you’re passionate. There is some truth to those beliefs culturally, but not necessarily for individuals. Each of us has our life experience that shapes our unique personality.

In America, if you’re from the south, you’re a bigot, a racist. Yankees are rude. For that last one, I’ll tell you as someone who’s lived in both southern and northern states there is a more genteel, some might say passive, approach to manners in the south. So in contrast, those from up north do appear rude.

bigstock-Cute-Cartoon-Fairytale-Princes-111350732 [Converted]For example, the idea of mirroring someone’s statement to show you understand them is simply not done at the very Southern company I worked for several years ago. It’s considered rude, confrontational. Instead, you should… well, frankly, I never did figure out how you’re supposed to handle it.

And while I wouldn’t call all Southerners racist, there is a remarkable them/us view with many of the people I know born and raised south of the Mason/Dixon line. They don’t see it. In fact, they justify every word of their own beliefs. As do I, with my own beliefs.

There are times when I need to challenge those beliefs. For example, you might arguably say I have some prejudice against those from the southern United States.

We make broad judgments based on a person’s race, ethnicity, gender, manner, clothing, accent, and whatever else we take in during those first seconds of meeting someone. And those judgments stick with us.

Some stubbornly maintain their beliefs, while others are willing to challenge themselves. Some give others a second chance, some are one-and-done.

AdobeStock_98604035 [Converted]Some have seen me at my worst, and don’t want to risk knowing me any further. My disappointment at those times is a challenge for me overcome.

People who know me know I’m a caring person, compassionate and kind. They know I’d do anything for my family, and that includes my cats. They know I shrivel up inside at the thought of hurting my friends.

They know other things about me, too. Things I won’t list here, because why spell out my faults?

They have forgiven me my insensitive moments, my selfish moods.

Each of us is complex, even those who seem the most simple. We all can surprise those who think they know us with an unguarded moment.

So who you think you see is not who I am. Nothing is at it appears, no one is as she appears.

 

Image Credits: © sapunkele — Adobe Stock