I AM WOMAN

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace;

What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time…

Ecclesiastes 3


I mentioned recently that I am a late bloomer.  This persona goes with this whole “old soul'”, “wise for my age”,  “good girl” theme that I was dropped smack in the middle of on September 5, 1972 (this would be the day of my birth).  This has always been a belief about myself that I bought into…until recently.

Sometimes, one’s world is turned upside down by the uncontrollable circumstances of life.  Personally, things that have rocked my world in the past few years include, but are not limited to:

  • Walking through Alzheimer’s disease with my precious Father and losing him after he bravely battled it for 12 years.  Every day in Alzheimer’s land is a day that you say goodbye in some way to your loved one and hello to a new change in them.
  • Infidelity, followed by three years of intense therapy with my ex husband
  • A divorce from my best friend after 23 years together
  • A big move for my beautiful Momma out of our family home and into her new home (which is lovely by the way)
  • Helping children cope.  Children teaching me to be a grown up.  Welcome to teen world.  Enough said.
  • A couple of career changes
  • Financial stress, financial stress, financial stress
  • Weight loss, weight gain and now onto loss again

Goodness knows, there is much more.  This is an excellent starter list though.  Surprisingly, I’m still here to tell my story and for that, my gratitude is overwhelming.

There are “firsts” happening too:

  • There have been a couple of dates for me.  Shocking, but dating at 19 is a completely different game than dating at 45.
  • My kiddos are experiencing tons of “firsts”…growing up; junior high; high school, dates (kind of); and all the challenges that accompany their experiences
  • I have begun graduate school, tonight as a matter of fact
  • I have a new career that I treasure!
  • New friends.  I feel like I am in college all over again with the new friends I am making.  I was just discussing with one of them (my new friends) how cool the process is; we agreed that there is a feeling that some of the friendships we are forming now, in our 40’s, are forged for a lifetime.
  • I am making grown up decisions for myself without regard (or less regard) to the judgement’s of others.  This is a drastic change for me.
  • I’m working on replacing words like shame, guilt and should’s with surrender, forgiveness and healing.
  • I am letting my mistakes be what they are…a growing experience that does not indicate I cannot accept myself with imperfections.

So….back to the late bloomer.  I have come to the conclusion that I’m not ‘late’ afterall.  I have certainly not arrived.  I am simply journeying along, just like we all are.  I wrote out Ecclesiastes 3 because it’s always been a favorite of mine, yet it’s only now that it seems to apply to my own life.  (I know…forgive my recent egocentricity.)  I am viewing myself in a different light.  There is a path ahead of me that is full of beauty and delight, I get to decide (generally speaking) which directions I will go.

During a party I recently attended, I watched in awe as several beautiful women danced to the song, “I am Woman” by Helen Reddy.  The lyrics fit where I am right now beautifully…..

“I am woman, hear me roar in numbers too big to ignore, and I know too much to go back or pretend cause I’ve heard it all before and I’ve been down on the floor No one’s ever gonna keep me down again.  Oh yes, I am wise, but it’s wisdom born of pain, yes I’ve paid the price, but look how much I’ve gained.  If I have to, I can do anything.  I AM STRONG.  I AM INVINCIBLE.  I AM WOMAN.  You can bend but never break me cause’ it only serves to make me more determined to achieve my final goal and I come back even stronger not a novice any longer cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul.  (chorus)  I am woman watch me grow see me standing toe to toe as I spread my lovin’ arms across the land.  But I’m still an embryo with a long long way to go, until I make my brother understand.  (chorus)  

Yep…this is right where I am and right where I am is EXACTLY where I am supposed to be.

Just here

I do not consider myself to be a person who rapidly and randomly changes moods.  I have a strong preference for people (myself included) who are stable, joyful, thoughtful, compassionate, tolerant, grace-filled, merciful, humorous, insightful, wise, cherish the moment, deeply reflective about life sorts.  Those characteristics give me a sense of trust and safety; both are significant to my heart.  That being said, I have struggled this last week with all of these.

I have not externally changed moods, (I don’t think), yet inside me it’s a constant storm of ‘shoulda’s’, ‘what if’s’, and the dreaded shame and guilt tapes.  UGH!  Yes, ugh!  Here, again.  I am stuck in the belief that nothing in life is stable.  My joy is hiding in the deep.  Compassion, thoughtfulness, grace, and mercy all are abundant for others, unfortunately I haven’t saved much for myself.  It’s tough to find humor, insight, wisdom, and gratitude in the moment when one is only reflecting on what I fondly refer to as the “familiar muck”.  We all have our muck, right?  No accident that it rhymes with my favorite curse word.  (as in ‘f$*@ the muck…but for my sweet Momma I’m going to not write the word out…this time!)  I’m trying my damnedest to keep my eyes above the waves, but if you look closely ,you will see me bobbing up and down, fighting to keep treading water.  I’m kinda pooped.

Anyone who spends 30 minutes or more with me will probably figure out that I do not enjoy the negative feels.  I will deflect with humor, talk nonstop, busy myself to the point of exhaustion, and turn the conversation around to take the focus away from me purely for the purpose of not feeling my muck.  I’m quite good at this.  It helps that even strangers feel compelled to share their life stories with me, I tend to be perceived as a safe person.  Thus, when someone wants to know about me, I am a pro at getting them to tell their story instead.  I am fascinated that this trait, which will help me be a fabulous counselor, can be so detrimental to my real life.

The other night, my 12-year-old daughter and I were hanging out.  My phone rang and she started to pick it up for me (normally I am in a stupid mad rush to answer)…because…SOMEONE NEEDS ME!!! The following conversation ensued…

Me: “I don’t want you to answer,  I don’t have it in me to be a very good friend right now.”

Stella:  “You are always a good friend.  Do you mean you don’t have the energy?”

Me:  “I do mean that.  I’m teary and sad feeling and I just can’t.”

Stella: “Mom, I want you to try something, okay?  When you feel like this, why don’t you call a friend who is having a good night and get some energy from them instead of feeling bad because you can’t help them.  Sometimes you need help too.”

This is my baby girl.  She is a boundary setter galore, so much so that it takes me aback at times.  I treasure this quality in her.  I’m thankful for it.  I’m baffled by it.  She is such a natural at something I am still trying to comprehend!

Perhaps this is why writing is incredibly healing for me.  I can write and anyone can choose to read/or not read it.  I’m not ‘bothering’ anyone.  I tell my story in this manner with ease.  Vulnerability here is simple for me, even though I know people will read and may judge.  I don’t care…in written form.  When I write, I do not have to ‘receive’ anything but feedback, I can share only what I want to share and though it’s a great lot…there is so much more brewing inside.  My new promise to my readers and myself is to practice the same vulnerability that I practice in written word, face to face.  A challenge from me and for me.

That’s that!

No better time than the present to share vulnerability….  I am certain I will write more on this after I have processed a bit…something to look forward too!  I am reading “Made to Crave”, by Lysa TerKeurst.  I’ve always loved her books and knowing that she has experienced infidelity in her marriage makes me love her even more.  Anyway….doing lots of thinking on my relationship with food and wanting that relationship to be different from whatever it has been in my entire life.

Just a few days ago, I had several (I am still ashamed) handfuls of Oreo’s for dinner.  As in over 1/2 of a box several.  The shame lies in the fact that I ate them as if I were desperately hungry, like I  hadn’t eaten in days. I didn’t even enjoy them.  (They were Oreo thins and why overeat Oreo’s if they don’t even have the good gooey artificial crack like stuff in the middle?)  Also, I had no milk.  What a waste.

I NEVER would’ve eaten cookies or anything else with that kind of animatistic drive if someone was watching.  I did it in secret.  I did it to stuff something I did not want to feel.  (Remember, I said I do not like the mucky feels).  I know that like any addict, I am comforted by my source in the moment.  I think my source is sugar.  There is a numbness that accompanies the comfort, again, in the moment.

I’ve been praying about this, and something hit me yesterday like a ton of bricks.  I have probably acknowledged ‘around this’ many times, but this time provided a deeper truth than I have ever felt surface.  Do I eat in secret only to numb?  Do I eat in desperation only for comfort? Do I stuff myself until I feel nauseous to stuff my feelings way down?  Yes, yes and yes.  Wait!  There’s more.  Here it is… (drumroll would be cool except this thought is anything but cool).

I EAT TO PUNISH MYSELF.  It’s a brilliant form of self-flagellation.  It is in the moment that I choose to overeat, ‘self-medicate’, stuff, numb, comfort; in that moment, I am feeling an overwhelming sense of shame and guilt for ‘whatever’ it is on my mind.  It could be a multitude of ‘whatever’s’, and that is what I will save for another post. I stuff myself with food (‘bad’ food, not ‘good’ food) and then I can feel even more guilt and shame for making such a miserable, hopeless choice.  All of the diets in the world are useless when the desire to diminish the feelings is stronger than the desire to heal.

This is a gigantic AHA for me.  I must figure out what to do with my new discovery.  I hate the way this knowledge makes me feel.  It makes me feel dirty and ashamed.  I’m  flooded with uncomfortable, ugly memories and truth. I have been praying for endless ‘something’s different’ and my relationship with food is among the top five, it wasn’t coincident that this my eyes have been opened to this revelation.   What to do?  I guess I’m going to sit in the discomfort for a ‘moment’ and prayerfully seek direction so that I may continue on the road to healing.  Life begins outside of our comfort zone, right?

I do not consider myself to be a person who rapidly and randomly changes moods.  Oh but my deepest desire is that my insides are always congruent with my outsides.  Stable, joyful, thoughtful, compassionate, tolerant, gracious, merciful, humorous, insightful, wise, moment cherishing and reflective….I’m going to be these for myself even amidst the muck.  These are part of my soul.  Don’t worry, I won’t desert me.

I am Nearly 45 and Exactly Where I am Supposed to Be…

Almost 45, and a little over one year ago, I was handed a “gift” that I tried with everything in me to return.  My husband of 18 years asked for a divorce…again…and this time, I conceded.  We had taken turns putting divorce on the table yet one of us always stayed grounded and talked the other down.  This time was different, I knew that my only choice was to let go.  Heartbreak had become a too comfortable friend and we were both weary.  I knew that he was trusting me enough to ask for what he truly felt he needed, I finally recognized that I loved him enough to graciously (a process indeed) give him what he was asking for.

In June, my sweet husband moved out of our family home and into his own apartment.  July brought the death of my precious Daddy, who had fought a brave battle with Alzheimer’s for 12 years.  August was full of transitions for the kids, one beginning a new journey with homeschooling and the other entering high school.  September was the beginning of returning to full time work for me.  In October, my precious Momma sold the home we all grew up in with she and Daddy and moved to a new home of her own. Alas, November and December brought bittersweet holiday celebrations, as we all adjusted to the consequential firsts that come with change.

Whew!  I have to catch my breath just remembering. This is life though, right?  It’s full of change.  Joy in the suffering, lightness  in the dark, triumph in the tragedy, beauty out of ashes and growth out of doing hard.  We have to search for the gifts…seek out the God in all of it.  Man, that is tough.

Only now am I beginning to get my feet back on the ground (that’s giving myself a ton of grace) and barely able to reach out my arms, hands open, ready to receive.  Only now am I embracing trace amounts of gratitude for my journey.  Only now….and this is okay, for only now is all we ever have.

Countless gifts in the mix, and the one gift that keeps re-emerging as a theme in my life is the opportunity to believe that I AM ENOUGH.  Despite a delay in my cooperation, I am now absorbing the truth that until I believe this and until I truly love myself, I don’t have all of me to offer anyone else. I wonder if I ever have truly and fully loved me for me, just as I am?  Even if I never opt to offer myself to another in a romantic relationship, isn’t it just as significant to offer myself the fullness of this kind of love?  I think, yes.

I am exceptionally gifted at meeting others where they are and loving them well. On the other hand, I am extremely inadept at doing so for myself.  I have an ongoing list of things I want in a future partner/relationship.  Ironically, all of the things I am seeking in someone else are things I really am seeking for myself within my own heart.

It is my soul’s desire to reconnect with God in a way that my human self has forgotten to do.  I know that He loves me and sees me in a light that I cannot easily fathom; I yearn to have  a glimpse of that view.

Here I am…nearly 45…with amazing opportunities before me.  This year is stunningly different than last year and next year will be incomparable.  I don’t know what all of this means, I just know this life is a one time gift and I intend to live it well.

 

“When you start to feel like things should have been better this year, remember the mountains and valleys that got you here, they are not accidents and those moment’s weren’t in vain.

You are not the same you, you have grown and you are growing, you are breathing, you are living.

You are wrapped in

Endless

Boundless

Grace

and things will get better, there is more to you than yesterday.  

-Morgan Harper