the strength of character I seek

In my life, I seek to be like my late great-aunt Vi, who never stopped in her practice of her faith.

I have unending respect for Vi. She was a teacher who, in the 60s, taught her fourth-graders lessons about human rights and dignity, issues people were dying for daily in those years.

My great-aunt, Violet Panzram, 1910-1996
My great-aunt, Violet Panzram, 1910-1996

She did more than teach those children. She sent money to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as evidenced by a letter now in the archives of The King Center, dated April 20, 1967.

“You have been in our fourth grade Hall of Fame for many years,” she wrote to this great leader, “but never have I held you in such high esteem as since your strong statement against the war in Vietnam.”

She went on to refer to a slide show she’d seen of children affected by napalm. She was appalled.. In response, she sent a check to Dr. King “for (his) peace efforts,” and told him she prayed for him daily.

If she said she prayed for him daily, that’s what she did. There was never a truer Christian than Violet Panzram. Her faith led her to action and compassion, and a kindness that shown like a beacon.

In her 86 years no doubt she faced trials that tested her strength, character and faith, but I have no idea what they were. A few years ago, I found myself wishing I knew more about how she worked through her dark days as I faced my own.

I’d been betrayed by someone I trusted to a point where I’d lost my career, my home and my trusting nature.

I’d been betrayed by someone I trusted to a point where I’d lost my career, my home and my trusting nature. Thankfully, I didn’t lose my friends, nor did those who knew me best stop believing in me, and never did they believe the horrible lies that spread through our community.

I realize that because of mental health issues, I’m limited in some of the ways I can change in my behavior. There are times when the beast within me takes control, and I struggle to fight without fully realizing what’s happening.  I’ve sought changes in my life, but some won’t come until I learn other hidden truths & solutions, or until I die and shed the constraints I’m bound by in this life.

Me
Me

Yet thankfully there are changes no amount of depression, anxiety or the multitude of issues I deal with can halt. Some of those changes include the excellence of character my great-aunt demonstrated, so I pursue that through the choices I make every day.

Surely Vi had her good days and bad, perhaps not in the same manner I experience them, but with their own restrictive features.

I move forward, and trust I’ll be a better person tomorrow, and even better the day after. I’ll always have my faults and my failures that anger and frustrate those around me, but I pray the good in me will be what’s remembered when I’m gone.

Featured image credit: (candles) © 9comeback — fotolia.com; (background) © lpopba — Dreamstime.com; (background) © Leksustuss — Dreamstime.com.

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.

Rules, Respect, and Giving a Rip

There was a time when, with a carload of friends, I, as the driver, was caught in a stop-and-go situation in a parking ramp after a basketball game.

“Look!” my friend Kathy said, pointing at another car. “They’re going the opposite direction! Let’s do that!”

We should have, and I had a split second to decide. There was no law, no rule really, against it. Nothing would’ve happened other than getting out of that ramp an hour or so earlier. But I couldn’t do it. The signs told us which way to exit. Going the other way was wrong.

I can’t help myself. I’m a rule follower.

I’ll tell myself and everyone else I’m being respectful, but bottom line, I’m scared of getting in trouble.

You bet I follow the red light/green light rules. Always have, always will.
You bet I follow the red light/green light rules. Always have, always will.

I even make sure I’m going in the “Enter” door when I shop at Walmart, and veer to the other side if I find I’m headed for the “Exit” door by mistake. Keep in mind the automatic doors have sensors on both sides, and no one so much as blinks if you go through the “wrong” door. On your average shopping day, there’s no danger or inconvenience in entering through the exit door (on Black Friday, it is, of course, a different story).

This wouldn’t bother me so much if I didn’t feel like I was being controlled by these rules. That, I think, is the dividing line for me between what is right and what is compulsive. I do not, for example, compulsively follow traffic laws. I do it for two reasons: safety, and I don’t want to get a ticket.

No, make that three reasons. It’s the law. Following it is what you do.

When I was in college — the first time —

it was a VERY conservative school, and students could receive what were called “minutes” for infractions of a plethora of really stupid rules. I think breathing too loudly on Saturday morning before 10 a.m. was one of them.

You’d get three minutes per infringement, and if you flouted your rebellion to a point of getting 30 minutes, you received what was called a “campus”, and “volunteered” three hours of your time to the school pulling weeds or some such.

In the history of the school, only a handful of students had made it until graduation without any minutes. I could’ve been one of them, except for two things: 1) I didn’t graduate, and 2) one Saturday morning I slipped up and talked to another student in the bathroom before 10 a.m. (I almost wasn’t kidding above).

She talked to me first, but no matter. And she was an RA, so I was screwed.

It would’ve been good for me to blast my radio

after hours a night or two, or (really bad) show up after curfew (there may have been more serious consequences for that. And, oh yes, curfew). It would’ve been really good for me to kiss a guy on campus (again, I’m serious, a violation of school policy), but that rarely was an option anyway.

I say it would have been a good thing for me because I might have understood what I only now am fully grasping: breaking certain rules doesn’t make you a bad person, or even untrustworthy. There are boundaries and I probably held mine closer than was healthy.

Certainly I didn’t need to trap me and my friends in that parking garage for more than an hour. If I’d gone the wrong way, worst case scenario half the other cars might have followed me. As it was, my decision cast a pall on the evening; that’s what we always remembered about an otherwise fun night.

Who's in Charge smStill, old dogs, new tricks. Forget dogs — I should be like my cats. They (reluctantly) follow the few rules I absolutely enforce and don’t give a rip about much of anything I else I ask of them. Somehow they know what really matters. I rarely reprimand them, or think any less of them for their indifference.


Photo credit (stoplight): © Graphic Stock; (Kitty and Candy) © geosap — stock.adobe.com

 

Mission Accomplished (so stop trying to get it done)

I have a recurring dream…one I hear many people share with me.

Or some variation of it. It’s the “education” dream, the one in which it’s finals weeks and you haven’t been to class all semester. (I think my first time through college, I may have actually lived that dream during my final term.)

Nervous Pop Art Young Woman Biting her Nails. Vector illustrationMy dream is a little different. In it, I have once again returned to college. I’m working toward a second bachelor’s degree (although in what is never clear). Yet try as I might, I continually fail most, if not all, of my classes. I cannot grasp the subject matter, cannot conquer the topic. Sometimes, I wait too long to drop the classes, and I know I’m going to get failing grades.

There is a sense of repeated defeat, a feeling I should just give in to the fact I’m not meant to have a college degree.

Except…I have one, a bachelor’s in journalism. At some point in my dream, I stop worrying about my current failures. I’ve already succeeded. Why am I even putting myself through this mayhem?

I’ve never bothered to determine what is going on in my life that triggers this dream, although the message is pretty clear. Don’t be afraid of the future. You’ve already proven yourself in the past, and you have the tools to do it again.

I like that I resolve this issue so easily while I’m sleeping. I think it’s experience talking.

I was talking to my cousin today. He’s more than 20 years younger than I am, which puts him in his mid-30s, old enough to have gained some perspective on life’s trials and tribulations himself.

He recently removed himself from a situation that was leading to trouble, and I’m proud of him. He has not only lived through some challenging times, he’s put those difficulties to good use in his life. He doesn’t want to relive what is best left in the past.

I’m sure when I was his age, I’d learned a few lessons myself, but when I look back on that era of my life, I typically see repeated failures. How will I view what I’m living through now in the years to come?

Fotolia_120458963_XSHardly the question to fret over, I know. What I should be asking myself is, what are you learning from the past, and how are you applying it to your life today?

There are lessons I should be learning, steps I should be taking to conquer my demons. It’s not always easy to break convenient habits.

But I’m not going to repeat another class if I don’t have to do so. There are better ways I can improve my life.

Onward…


Image Credits: © ivector — Fotolia

Payback

Earlier today I was driving down one of the busiest streets in my city, when I saw three men riding bicycles approaching from the opposite direction. They stopped, and appeared to be looking at a homemade map, clearly uncertain which way they were going.

What made this remarkable was one of the men was dressed like Raggedy Ann, pinafore and all, with a red yarn wig and rosy cheeks. He was unshaven and wore paint-spattered jeans under his doll getup, and as he started riding again (apparently they’d determined some sort of direction), he put on sleek sunglasses.

I’m guessing they were headed to some sort of party, where he would either cause great joy or profound embarrassement for his offspring, depending on how old they might be. After conversations yesterday with two friends dealing with fiendish teenagers, I found myself hoping perhaps at least one of his children was between the ages of 13 and 15, and was about to be mortified…and momentarily speechless.

There’s great joy when a baby is born. Yes, it’s a lot of work, with sleepless nights to add to the increased responsibility and change in lifestyle. But it’s nothing, from all I’ve observed, to the work involved in raising a teenager.

Over the years I’ve had countless parents of teenage boys and girls say to me, “If only I could get rid of them for the next two or three years — and reclaim them once they’re decent human beings again.”

Not a deal too many people are likely to enter into, so parents, you’re stuck. But why not have a little fun? Take a cue from this man with no shame, who braved the cold and laughter from strangers simply to bring…well, I can only imagine what he was bringing and where, but the destination hardly matters.

Show you’re in charge by showing nothing phases you.

football-944349_1920
Notice no teens are nearby….

Tomorrow is the Super Bowl. You can really outdo yourself on this day with outlandish fan gear. Never mind who your team might be. The face paint, cheeseheads (yes, I know Green Bay didn’t make it — but cheeseheads! how embarrassing!), any number of other team-specific paraphenilia. Do it up right.

Your reward for all of this? Your teenager just might lock him or herself in his or her room for the duration of the Big Game.

Photo courtesy Pixabay

The Only Thing Exterminated Here is the Death Penalty 

In my last job, we weren’t allowed to kill the bugs.

wp-1478120174181.jpg
At the Inn at Bella Vista, this little one is safe.

Okay, it’s a bed & breakfast, so they had an exterminator come out on a regular basis for the comfort of their guests, but if a wasp flew into the dining room, you called Bill. He’d show up with the bug jar, capture the wasp and set it free.

Which is all well and good, but in my house, you take out the Raid.

The mice were saved, too, whenever possible. One such soul, Rodney, kept coming back, even though Bill would capture him in one of those humane traps and take him far into the woods in back. I’m not sure how he knew it was Rodney every time, but they developed a bond of sorts.

Sorry, Walter, little Rodney can’t play today.

I couldn’t help myself. I offered to bring over my cat, Walter, for a play date with Rodney. That suggestion was met with a wounded look from Bill.

Despite my jokes, I respect Bill’s philosophy. It comes as a direct result of his time serving as a Marine in Vietnam and a police officer in Little Rock in the 70s. He’s seen enough killing and death.

He tells stories of his time on the force, but never as a Marine in combat. Something true of many, if not most, servicemen and women. What they witnessed, and took part in, during war is not something they want to remember or repeat, in words or actions.

Instead, some, like Bill, try to make sense of what happened by protecting all innocents. Bless the beasts and the children, as they used to say. A phrase born of a country at war. Where are the protest songs today?

We become the people we are today in part by our response or reaction to what happened yesterday. Ideally, it is a response, a chosen way of thinking and being. But what happens when you are thrown into a situation for which you are never prepared, then asked to live with the resulting emotions? The guilt, the shame of an inexplicable experience may result in burying your thoughts and beliefs about what happened. You lose a part of yourself.

There is hope.

Believe in yourself, the person you know yourself to be in spite of the thoughts that hammer at your brain. Seek out the support of others. Never give up in your search for better.

This life is far from perfect. But it is what we’re given for a time, so never give in to the worst. Let the better part of life win.


Image Credit: (bee and flower)courtesy of Pixabay; (hand and butterfly) © Bigstock.com

Wisdom and Roadblocks

I’ve been binge-watching the show Younger for the last few weeks, and in addition to being entertained by the program, I’m intrigued by the idea of going back in time and starting over, knowing now what I wish I knew then.

I remember my twenties as agony, my thirties as much greater fun. As my body calls out with daily new aches and pains, I long for the time when age wasn’t catching up with me. With what I’ve learned up to this point in my life, think of what I could do with all that health.

me-c-1987
Me at 27 — or 29 — doesn’t matter, it was a long time ago.

There are moments, somewhat fleeting, when I’d love to be 27 and have the full opportunity to start a new career, with a lifetime of growth in that field ahead of me. In my mind, I can picture myself as professional, successful, innovative, and admired for my deftness in cutting edge work. I have long hair and a stylish wardrobe, and if my lipstick wears off, I doesn’t dangerously age me.

As intriguing as the idea of a second chance may be, it discounts the opportunities available to me today. Yes, youth has its advantages and its appeal in the workplace. But for many, too many, it comes with limitations, arrogancy and insecurity.

Younger isn’t a going-back-in-time show, it’s a pretending-to-be-14-years-younger-than-you-really-are show. The reality is, I do, in fact, look younger than a lot of women my age. Not 14 years, but enough. It’s heredity, and I’m thankful for it. Still, not enough to pretend I actually am in my 40s, with all the opportunities that still exist for women of that generation. That’s because, at some point, in some way, I’d have to return to the angst of that decade. And as Younger shows us, you can’t escape who you are.

I’m best at being who I am today. At times confused, somewhat scared, yet more than anything else, optimistic. In recent years I have been blessed with greater wisdom and insight, and a more relaxed attitude toward life. I don’t worry as much about what others think, I see through the lies and pandering of popular media, and I’m better about standing up for myself. Far from perfect there, but I no longer fear the consequences of saying “you can’t treat me like that.”

There is a reason I am where I am today, and given the chance to take my life experience and place it in my resurrected 27-year-old body would fail the human experience somehow. I am meant to be taking risks, making friends, loving my family and defining my priorities in part by the age I am, with all the gifts and drawbacks that brings.

october-2016
Me today. Yes, I’d prefer it if wearing my hair long didn’t age me. But in the scheme of things, that ranks low on the happiness scale.

Authenticity and being true to oneself are such lofty terms. I don’t seek my authentic self. That self is already here. I seek integrity in my actions, reality coupled with creativity in my goals, and those precious moments when my cat curls up in my lap and purrs himself to sleep. I have my insecurities, but they don’t dominate my life like they used to do. I have my responsibilities, and I seek to meet them.

Authentically, honestly, I am 56 years old. That brings baggage and relief, wisdom and roadblocks. It is like any other age, with limitations, frustrations and opportunities. Life is a journey, one you are constantly having to re-navigate. Thankfully the tools get better with age. After all, I now have more wisdom and experience to break through those roadblocks.


Radical Authenticity

There’s Always Tomorrow

Oh, the promises I make myself.

finish-meNearly twenty years ago, I bought some beautiful wool fabric, fully intending to make a jacket out of it. Three years ago I bought a pattern, and since then I have slowly progressed to the finish…I swore I’d finish it last year, then gave up when the weather got too warm in the spring. This fall, I told myself. Absolutely this fall.

Of course each time I pick it up, I have to re-read the instructions to figure out what comes next. Then I get discouraged, and give up.

But I will finish it by Thanksgiving. I will wear it on Turkey Day.

bookAnd this book…I bought it about fifteen years ago…I pick it up periodically but never get very far. In fairness, I haven’t been reading like I used to, and I did read another two books I’ve had sitting on my shelf since the late 90s.

Then there’s the well-worn promise to lose weight. I only have about six pounds to lose, but I have a body type that shows every ounce, so it seems like more. (When I lost 40 pounds many years ago, more than one person swore I must have lost closer to 100. Like I wouldn’t have been bragging about that!) I don’t feel a need to lose it in a hurry, more a need to feel in control of my weight. I have a vision of myself grossly overweight, and it frightens me. Apparently not enough to put down those Pepperidge Farm salted caramel cookies, however. Yummy…too yummy.

So I avoid making promises to others. If I can’t honor what I’ve promised myself, how can I be expected to honor what I promise others?


Image Credits, header: (calendar) © stillfx — Fotolia; (clock) © Jakub Krechowicz — Fotolia

Promises

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.

“Proper” Wisdom

A high school teacher once told me, “the true meaning of sophistication is knowing what to do in the situation you’re in.

Admittedly, that doesn’t make me any more sophisticated than with the popular definition, but it does give an added dimension to the ideas of sophistication, elegance and grace.

AdobeStock_96443843 [Converted] c geosap nbgHow many of us have been in a social situation in which we feel like a duck out of water, surrounded by graceful, sleek panthers? They slide from one individual to the next, mysterious, powerful and so, so pretty, while we waddle and quack.

Maybe the best thing to do is find a party for ducks. If true sophistication is knowing what to do where you are, maybe leaving is the most gracious option available to you.

That’s not failure. For one thing, some people are naturally more comfortable in a social situation. I’m generally not one of those people. I like my small groups and familiar situations. I can survive in a crowd, but I’m probably not having fun.

adobestock_101089233-convertedWhen to make an entrance, how to make an entrance, and when & how to exit are prime social skills. If you’ve got those down, record that under “elegance.”

And just think how awkward those panthers would feel at a party for ducks. Assuming they don’t eat us alive…

Image Credit: © Geosap — Fotolia
Elegant

Fear, the Future and Moving Forward

When I was just under two years old, I feared nothing. Okay, not true. The only way I’d go down the slide was on my tummy, feet first, so apparently my fear of heights started early. But feeding ducks? Couldn’t get me to do that today (what if they bit me?) but as a toddler, if Grandpa told me it was okay, I was a trusting soul.

 

Admittedly, it took me a little bit to get into it, but once I did, I was all in.

Not too many people I trust that implicitly any more, I’m afraid. I’ve learned there’s value in counsel from many, and accepting the advice of one person in a life-changing situation, no matter how adamant they may be that they are right, is rarely the wise thing to do.

It takes me time to process things. Sometimes someone will make a suggestion and I’ll dismiss it out of hand. If they push it, I’ll push back, and get angry, defensive. I need time to think it through. Later I may come back and say, “hey, what about…?” and make the same suggestion they did only days before, frustrating the bejeebers out of them.

Other times I know I’m right, and I’ll push back, and that, too, will irritate my friends, who don’t see the difference. Not long ago I had a friend who, in all sincerity, thought I was taking a situation “too seriously” and not looking at things “the way they really are.”

I was living the situation; he wasn’t. I knew just how serious it was. He was frustrated because of my perceived attitude; I was equally perturbed by his stubborn refusal to accept my experience as valuable in evaluating the situation.

me graduation
Me at my college graduation — finally, at the age of 30

I struggle, daily, with important decisions. I seek advice from friends and family, and I look at past decisions, I write blog posts (some published, some not) about what I would or would not like to see happen.

There are aspects of my life I want changed now and things I want to change in the future. I lie awake at night thinking about what I need to do to protect my future, and worrying some things will never change if I don’t take baby steps.

Some days I take the baby steps, then I forget to do so again for months at a time, losing any momentum I may have gained.

Moving forward is an ever-challenging, often exasperating, sometimes exhausting, yet ultimately exhilarating practice. It can happen slowly, then suddenly speed up and leave you spinning.

I never want to stop moving forward, growing and achieving personal freedom as a result. For me, it requires re-evaluation every so often, and I’m doing that now.

And looking forward to the next chapter.

 

 

 

Something Incredible, Someone Incredible

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
― Carl Sagan

That sense of awe, of anticipation. What lies around the corner? What will change my life tomorrow?

Carl Sagan, of course, was talking about science, and presumably, discovery. Yet there are things each of us have yet to uncover in our own lives that can turn the tide for us, bring us great joy and satisfaction, and give us hope in the thought of a new day. Discovery in the ordinary.

globe-304806_1280 pixabay smImagine being eight months old again, and the whole world is new. In some ways, that still can be true. There is still more out there we don’t know than we do, more to learn than we can ever know. And while most of it doesn’t have the power to change our lives, just learning it does. The power of the process of education.

And having that sense of awe certainly changes you.

It’s easy, and safe, to become cynical as we grow older. It almost seems wise. We look at the little ones around us and call those wide eyes “the child-like look of wonder” equating “child-like” with “naive, vulnerable.” Yet imagine being able to just sit somewhere and watch the magic of something incredible reveal itself.

Perhaps in sitting still you’ll learn something you’ve never dreamed of before.

There are times in our lives we don’t know why we’re “on hold.” Are we meant to discover during those times? Discovery inherently means you don’t seek particular information, because you don’t know what’s out there. You simply start seeking.

Magnifying Glass smFollow the course of knowledge where it leads you.

Of course at a point your discovery may lead you to understand there is a path of  information you want to pursue. It may open up worlds of further discovery for you.

Or something as mundane as job opportunities.

 


 

Photo Credit (magnifying glass) Elisabeth Burrell © Copyright 2016 — Fotolia

Believe in Me Before I Fade Away

Years ago my friend Lois told me she looked at other people and felt inferior to them because they all seemed to have it all together. She listed one quality or another each of them had she felt she didn’t have.

She left out a few qualities on her list. Those she had, and many others don’t, that made her a wonderful friend.

Being Outsider

It was the first time I realized how easy it is for each of us to take for granted our own uniqueness, what sets us apart from the crowd, or worse yet, to believe that those things you think make you weird, unlovable. Paired with the feeling of being on the outside looking in is the belief you fade away because of your lack of a certain level of “specialness.”

In a world where we often stand alone rather than cry out “I’m lonely!” to those near us, it can take a long time to realize that together with an offbeat sense of humor or appreciation of horror shows may be a deep sense of compassion, empathy and sensitivity to the lost and lonely. The tendency to lend a hand to someone who tripped and fell.

No one is more sensitive to the plight of the downtrodden than the one who’s been there. I was in a situation I never expected to be in a few years ago, where I was frightened, somewhat in shock and forced to make decisions inconsistent with the life I’d been living.

The men and women I met during that time have my heart now, and whatever I can do to help them, I will. Granted, it isn’t much, and sometimes I need to keep quiet or my emotions get in the way of the logic and reason of statements I make on their behalf.

I’ve learned to intercede in other ways. I could have come out of that time feeling like mud mixed with slime, sticking to the bottom of everyone’s shoe, but instead I feel more whole today than I ever have. A lot of that has to do with those who believed in me, regardless of what anyone else may have said or done.

A lot of it has to do with choosing to believe in myself.

I think eventually Lois realized her own worth, although much to my regret I’ve been out of contact with her for years now. I hope anyone who thinks everyone else “has it all” is given a friend who will bless them with a list of their unique combination of qualities that sets them apart.

You have them.

Colorful Child's Handing Hands, Cartoon People Silhouettes 3D Il
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Photo Credit: (gummy bears) © ivanmateev – Fotolia (paper dolls) © Bigstock

 

Outside Looking In

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world, but then I thought, there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this, know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
― Frida Kahlo

How many of us have sat silently at night, convinced we stand alone in the world in our oddness, and uncertain as to how to change? Fearing constant rejection throughout our lives?

Me at Four
Even at the age of four I felt like an outsider.

For years I lived my life that way, believing not only was I too far outside the norm to be accepted, but that I would never truly be loved, that I would be isolated from others all of my life.

I no longer feel that way, even though I know I stand alone in many ways. Well, perhaps not truly alone, there are others like me, but I’m not sure I know them. I’ve found a way to be myself in the world, and perhaps that makes me oblivious to the thoughts of others.

November 2014 family gathering 5x7
I’m doing better these days.

Well, truthfully, I have my moments, and in those times I wonder if I’m blind to my oddities the rest of the time. If that’s the case, there’s little I can do to change now. I am who I am and I don’t know any way to be any different.

I’m not ruled by those thoughts anymore. Perhaps I was overly sensitive to them before, and made things worse by behaving in a way that matched how I believed others saw me.

This is who I am.


strength from all sources — a year of blogging

This year, like the last several, I’ll be spending Christmas day alone. Well, I’ll be working in the morning, but by choice, once the work is done, I’ll go home and spend the rest of the day by myself.

Last year I spent part of Christmas starting this blog. You wouldn’t know it to look at my archives; that’s largely in part because anything worth reading that I posted early on I’ve since re-posted, or rather, moved to a more recent date.

But here’s the post that started it all. It was written after a brief moment of despair, and I’ve re-read it numerous times to remind myself of the strength I have within:

“December 25, 2014

you bought me the book“I’m not motivated by New Year’s Resolutions. No surprise there, most people aren’t. No surprise what does motivate me either: trying to impress someone important to me is always a big one. Problem is, that comes and goes. Here’s the reason that actually works: finally realizing my life is truly better and I’m going to attract better things when I do things the right way. And typically it has taken failure in my life, and some humiliation, to get to that realization.

“My friends say, oh, we each worry about those things a lot more than others do. After all, we have to live with our own failings, our stupidity, our repeated efforts to resolve what’s gone wrong with yet one more foolish gesture.

“Right now I’m faced with what seems to me to be huge failure brought on by circumstances I had no control over. Wisdom from others tells me to learn to control what I can and live with what I can’t, but what I can’t control has taken over and felled me. Now I need to stand up and return to where I was only a short time ago. But will I fall again? Probably. That which I do not control will always be with me, and I fear that those I care about will leave me.

“So I must do what I can to perhaps ward off the beast that follows me everywhere for longer than before. I must learn from this and pray I have another chance that will allow me to succeed. I weep at the thought I won’t, and realize I now have little control over that, but in and of itself there could stand a truth I need to learn. Truth that belies what I have held so dear for so long.

“I face difficult yet not insurmountable odds. I tell myself I can take advantage with hard work and fierce resolve, with fortitude and purpose. No trite quotes for me, but strength of mind and character prevail. This year was better than last. I can’t guarantee next year will be better than this, but I’m hopeful it will be.”

Happy Holidays, all my blogging friends, followers and those who I’ll get to know in this next year of blogging.


 

Image credits: (clock) © Jakub Krechowicz – Fotolia ; (calendar) © stillfx – Fotolia; background © Leksustuss — Dreamstime.