What I didn’t know

Visited with my beautiful sister Kristy today. I love her more than words can say and hated leaving.

Feeling reflective in the car as Stella and I chatted.

I told her I needed to apologize to John, my dear son. I was recalling a Halloween when he was one or two. It was nasty outside and he had a bad cold. He was crying, miserable and wanted to go home from the church parking lot trunk or treat. He wanted to leave. I wanted him to be a happy Tigger and not miss the Halloween memory making. Poor baby.

Stella reminded me I did the same on her first bday. She had a double ear infection and was tearful and miserable. Wise people tried to get me to reschedule. Nope. Not gonna miss those special birthday memories. She literally had tears and snot dripping as I encouraged her to blow out her bday candles. Sweet baby.

Both of these times it was my intention that my babies have wonderful memories. Neither of those events did I trust the process and respect their needs. I was always pushing for something better.

I hope those amazing young humans forgive me for that and so much more. I hope their dad forgives my need for perfection back then.

I didn’t know a different way yet.

Practicing Metta

Metta. A lovingkindness, friendliness that teaches us to extend genuine kindness and friendliness to ourselves and then outwardly to others. In Buddhism, metta is the first of the brahma viharas

The whole of the brahma viharas are new to me. It’s quite enjoyable to learn and mediate on them….and yes, I still love my Jesus. I also treasure wisdom and learning. Anyway…that’s a whole nother topic for a whole other day.

Today, my meditation practice has centered around this statement; to greet each thought with, “May I meet this too with kindness.’ In theory, sounds super simple. In reality, I have so much reaction and resistance within me that this could be akin to asking me to swim 5 miles wearing 50 pound bags of rocks. It’s a task that feels insurmountable; thus…it’s a practice my soul longs for.

Spending time in quiet breath, accepting whatever comes; I am surprised at what comes up. There is so much angry, so much resentment…mad, mad, mad. There are the regrets, the shoulds, the shames and embarrassments. MAY I MEET THESE TOO WITH KINDNESS.

Hmph. Mental eye roll. More minutes in this quiet with more emotions arising. Leaving. Don’t leave me. I don’t want to leave you. Fear. Arguing. Comparison. MAY I MEET THESE TOO WITH KINDNESS.

How does it feel when I meet myself with kindness instead of judgment or reaction? In my quiet space, I free my mind to do what it needs to do and breathe deep in my spirit; praying and hoping the two find a place to connect peacefully.

This is semi-foreign to me. I’ve done hard work within; I’ve sought and found my inner child; there is still, always work to do. Peeling layers of an onion, I remind myself. My instant reaction…I’d rather peel layers of cabbage. Okay sister, you go for it. This is your work. Be cabbage. I laugh at my self and wonder at my ability to create my own struggles where there need be none.

I’m here now. I am here with the shoulds. I realize there is equanimity among the shoulds, the scolding, the shame and the harsh self judgements.

Thoughts arise.

“Sit up, you are meditating in the wrong position.”

“You are fat. Why are you fat?” (I am pleased as I meet this thought not with acceptance; at least with a bit of grace because I am still ‘trying’ to love me where I am at.)

“Why did you switch to this new job. It pays well; but you are going to hate it. It’s against everything you theoretically believe. Furthermore, why are you 49 and needing to consider money. I’ll tell you why, it’s bc of your past poor choices. What makes you think you will do different now?

“Why should you be proud of yourself? You might want to consider how long it’s taken you to get here and don’t forget all of your past mistakes. This isn’t a big deal. You aren’t a big deal.”

“You won’t connect like you could, your fear is gonna get you.”

The thoughts don’t stop; yet my timer buzzes. Thank God. I decide to climb out of the negative rabbit whole and process. There is a constant push and pull in my gut. It rises and stops in my throat. I fear that if I let it out it will choke myself and everyone around me.

I acknowledge the struggle between letting go/surrender and control/fear.

I MEET THESE. I MEET ALL OF THESE. I MEET THESE WITH KINDNESS.

I process and continue my internal dialogue.

Why, hello old friends.

Hello Anger! I see you peeking around the corner, you’re okay.

Hiya Shame.

Hello sweet Surrender; I know you are feeling squished down.

Ah, regret, there you are.

Control, hello there!

Shame babies, greetings little ones. Please understand if I don’t feed you enough and you fade away as failure to thrive.

Oh…the Shoulds come marching in – Goodness!, you all multiply quickly.

Fear, hi!

Curiosity, welcome love! Doubt…hey there. Silly, you can disguise yourself as Curioustity but we know you are just playing around!

Dichotomous thinking, hi dear one! I know you are struggling.

Welcome everyone! I see you. Thank you for coming. I MEET EACH OF YOU WITH KINDNESS. What? I know; it’s new. Let’s try it though. Please? Please.

I meet you all with full kindness even when the pull is toward shame and resistance.

CHOOSE KINDNESS. CHOOSE KINDNESS. CHOOSE KINDNESS.

When you forget; CHOOSE KINDNESS.

When you resist; CHOOSE KINDNESS.

When you disconnect; CHOOSE KINDNESS.

When you are embarrassed and ashamed; CHOOSE KINDNESS.

When you doubt; CHOOSE KINDNESS.

When you feel less than; CHOOSE KINDNESS.

When you sabotage yourself; CHOOSE KINDNESS.

When you are mean; CHOOSE KINDNESS.

When you are less than love; CHOOSE KINDNESS.

When you feel the “I cant’s, CHOOSE KINDNESS.

When the shoulds overwhelm; CHOOSE KINDNESS.

When you compare; CHOOSE KINDNESS.

When you are afraid; CHOOSE KINDNESS.

When you feel the “never enough’; CHOOSE KINDNESS.

When you choose the “too muches“; CHOOSE KINDNESS.

When you claim helplessness; CHOOSE KINDNESS.

I love you sis. CHOOSE KINDNESS.

LET HOPE TAKE FLIGHT

I hate needles. So much so, that I opted out of epidurals and had natural deliveries with both of my children. Needles mean that a person with medical expertise is going to take over my body. Needles mean I am helpless. Needles mean I am powerless. Needles have meant that my body has betrayed me and I am going to get poked and prodded. Needles have symbolized a lack of control and fear in my past. This is all due to my medical history starting at birth. Although I am 48 years young and quiet understanding that all the pokies in my past have been to help rather than harm me; I still HATE needles.

It’s easy to imagine my sweet momma’s expression when I told her I wanted a tattoo for my birthday this year. She laughed in surprised response and reminded me that I hated needles and probably wouldn’t enjoy a tattoo. I thought this was all the more reason to get one. I wasn’t trying to prove anything to anyone. This tattoo was something I felt a need to do for myself. After all, life begins out of our comfort zones, right?

I had a plethora of ideas and feedback about what I should do. I was all over the board with my options. Then, as most things do, it came to me very clearly. Rather than spend all of this blog explaining what I did not do, I would love to share my experience as well as what I did do and why.

I chose to get a hummingbird with the words, “I’m a love a you.” I chose to have it on the inside of my wrist so that I can look at it often and remember. Here’s the backstory…

My brother Brent passed away in 1987. Every single year, starting then, a hummingbird has appeared to my mom or a member of our family on the week of the anniversary of his death. We have always felt like it was a sign that Brent was okay. It has always happened at the craziest of times and seems to be an isolated event. Even this year, in the home I had been in for only 4 months…I was sitting on my deck in the morning drinking coffee and thinking about how many years Brent had been gone. Right then, a little hummingbird hovered around my head and then to my plants. That is the only time I have seen a hummingbird here…until tonight…but that’s another story.

I looked up hummingbird symbolism and meaning. I found that in Native American cultures, hummingbirds are seen as healers, bringers of love, good luck and joy. In central America, they bring love to the person who spots them. In various cultures, hummingbirds are considered to be messengers from heaven, gently nudging us to move on and release the burden of people or things that can no longer be part of our lives. Lastly, and my favorite was the folklore indicating that a hummingbird is a sign that a loved one who has passed away has successfully made it to the other side and is doing just fine. (LOVE).

Hummingbirds generally symbolize joy, playfulness and adaptability; tireless in their effort to find sweetness and as a reminder to pursue our dreams and not allow obstacles to stop us…regardless of distance. They are whimsical. They are magical. They flit from place to place. They fly so freely. I have been set free from so very much. The hummingbird and I seem synchronous in nature. Everything fits.

Then….”I’m a love a you.” This is something my Daddy and Momma said to each other. My daughter and I were talking in the car. I had decided on a hummingbird yet I felt something was missing. She reminded me of this phrase. That was it. A perfect honor to my parents; they are all about the love. I smile every time my heart hears them say, “I’m a love a you.” If I can love others (starting with my children) as much as they loved each other and their cherished ones, I will have lived my life well.

I had the most fabulous tattoo artist and human being help me through this process. I survived and we had the best conversation the whole time I was getting inked. That is not what I imagined would happen. Masked in the covid area and getting a tattoo can’t keep meaningful human connection away!

I keep trying to decide what it felt like. Not painful really. Maybe uncomfortable and aggravating describe the sensation best for me. It was a phenomenal experience. I am incredibly proud of myself for doing this. Earlier today, when I was chatting with my daughter, she made me pinky promise to her demand that I ‘not chicken out’.

I will look at this tattoo daily and cherish it’s story. Whether only I know it or share it with others; it represents the love that has always embraced me, who I am, and who I have the freedom to be. “I’m a love a you” also is a tangible reminder that not only am I surrounded by love, I love myself.

I can do hard things.

p.s. Tonight, I was standing outside by the moonflowers with my kiddos. Guess who came to visit us but a dancing little hummingbird?

Hope has taken flight.

Lovely Me

I did a thing today… I’m going to write about it before I lose my nerve.

I went to the pool in a black two piece swimsuit. I love two pieces for so many reasons, they are the next best thing to being naked in the water (because that’s illegal in the community pool).

However, I hate my stomach with a vengeance and would never intentionally show it off. Sometimes though, full coverage suits make it look even worse than it is by trying to squish me up in places that need not be squished. Still, I try to find the best full coverage swimsuit I can to hide my body.

I’m so sick of hiding. I’m sick of hiding my thoughts. I’m weary of hiding my opinions. I am tired of shrinking down to appease things that don’t even deserve my appeasement.. I

I fear judgment that people look at me and think I have no business in a two-piece suit. When I stop and think about it, it’s pretty egocentric to think everybody at the pool is going to be looking at me and concerned about what I’m wearing.. If that is their biggest concern, kudos to them and I suggest they get a life.

I enjoyed the pool today more than I have all season long. I wasn’t tugging at my swimsuit trying to get it perfect nor was I trying to hide myself… There is nothing to hide.

I want my daughter and her friends to see me modeling a healthy self image. I fear that I have not always been in this place. I want them to see me being authentic in every way and that includes in the journey to love my own body as the strong, healthy, perfectly imperfect storage for my soul that it is.

I also think Stella is going to be pretty proud of me for not wearing my usual “grandma“ swimsuits. (I think that’s pretty harsh. LOL!)

I’ve been on a journey to get healthier the past few years and I have made huge strides. I am still a work in progress… we all are.

Whether I have been working on myself or not though, I deserve to enjoy my body free from shame, guilt, and disgust. My body is a miraculous and beautiful creation.

It’s been lovely today to focus on what I am rather than what I am not. I’m learning.💕

I’m not in need of accolades. My prayer is that this pings somebody else who also struggles with body image. I hope they are encouraged to look in the mirror and see that they too are a beautiful and miraculous creation.

Another Inside Job

One of my favorites. You could really substitute any word for “love”. Try happiness, peace, grace, mercy….even friendship. You get the idea.

Whatever the word, it is our own task to find the barriers within ourselves that keep us from experiencing it. It’s never another persons role nor is it our job to decide for others what they need to do.

Currently, my personal word is acceptance. “My task is not to seek acceptance, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within myself that I have built against it.“

If I do not feel accepted by somebody else, I don’t feel safe inside myself or with them. I have tended in the past to become the perfect chameleon in order to appease another persons need for comfort or my endless need for acceptance. After all, if somebody else does not accept me or some thing I have done, how can I accept myself? I must have been wrong.

I’m learning that that acceptance only needs to come from me and not from somebody else. It’s an inside job. I would have said, “self acceptance” but that doesn’t apply solely because I have to except that I don’t need acceptance from people outside of myself.

For me, it boils down to this… Trying to seek God in everything. Trying to remember that He loves and accepts me right where I am. Trying to remember that this is all I need. Trying to remember that I am enough in Him.

What’s the word that would fit here for you?

A Tribute to Friendship, Sex, & Milkshakes

Thankful tears flowed from my eyes this morning as I thanked a friend for being the blessing he is in my life.

He is my imperfect friend who has no pressure to live up to anything but being him, because his perfectly imperfect genuine self is a rarity.

Take a big, beautiful heart and add in compassion; understanding; trustworthy; humor; integrity; wisdom;hysterical; God loving; creative man who is well dressed and super fun ..there is my dear friend.  See?  Rare.

He accepts me as is.  He loves me as is.  He might sometimes be disappointed for my choices and how they will affect me; at the same time, he is not disappointed in me.  Big difference.

He encourages me to be the best version of me I can be while never loving me any less as I travel my journey and sometimes behave like a dumbass. (true story) We speak truth to one another; even when truth is ugly feeling.  The thing is…when truth is spoken in love and safety is present…it’s a sacred treasure.  He challenges me when it’s uncomfortable and would be much easier to not.

He knows my everything.  My everything is safe with him.  He has never played judge and jury to me.  That is magical.  We’ve all been in a place that we believed we were truly safe with someone…until a dreaded, unexpected moment illuminates a reality that safety has been an illusion.  There was not acceptance and love of who you are; perhaps there was acceptance and love for who they want you to be.  That is not magical, it sucks.

Laughter, tears, and everything in between are welcome. He is proud of my accomplishments, generous with his encouragements, okay with my sunshine as well as my melancholy and super fun to go to the grocery store with.  He loves sex (not with me), milkshakes, animals, learning and laughter.  The countless endless conversations we have will never have sufficient words to let him know that he is cooler and more than he will ever grasp.

I hope and pray I provide the same for him.  There are perhaps 10 people in my world outside of my family that I have this type of friendship with.  I intend to ensure they always know how deeply I love them.

As I expressed my gratitude to my precious friend this morning, my heart was pinged.  Is this not how our God designed us to be in relation with one another?   We are made in His image, right?  I know God loves me.  He made me.  He knows my heart, he knows the numbers of hairs on my head for goodness sake.  He knows my journey.  God weeps with me, rejoices with me, and loves me in the messy middle (which is where my humanness seems to have me living the majority of the time).

Beloved human connections (could, should, can) mirror our relationship with God.  We are God’s heart, walking outside of His body but still in Him.  Our loves are the same…pieces of our heart walking outside of our body but always in us.

True Friendship…it’s a beautiful form of intimacy.  In our individuality, we are still all reflections of each other.  In our separateness, we are still made to be unified.  How cool is my God?  Not only does he offer me unconditional love and friendship through Him…he gives me that in real live humans.

The reciprocity of real friendship is the ultimate legacy to leave with another.  This type of friendship has impacted my life profoundly for the better.

I am grateful to have even one friend of this caliber in my life; sex and milkshakes too.

Philippians 1:3  “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”

 

Ouch

We had agreed to be honest with each other.  We had both been hurt by infidelity in our previous marriages and agreed to promote trust and safety with each other as best we could. We hadn’t been dating long; it was actually only our third date.  Our second ‘real’ time together.  The first date, I had come down with a stomach bug.  He was super sweet, bringing me flowers and sprite and hanging out for a visit.  I still am not sure if he brought those flowers to make sure I was being honest about being sick or out of genuine kindness.  Either way, I was impressed.

We seemed to click fairly well, yet we definitely were still in the stage of figuring out if we enjoyed each other.  I had noticed a rapid change in his behavior. Within a week, he had gone from “good morning beautiful”, “your mind is brilliant”, “you are amazing”; to a more formal style of communication minus the flirting.  I obviously noticed this, right?  It’s that gut check that says something is off.

Fast forward to the  third (and final) date.  We were in the middle of a rather intimate moment and involved in a deep conversation.  I had mentioned the change that I noticed.  He was quiet for a moment, I encouraged him to just share what was on his mind.

He hesitated for a brief moment before he said, “you are just bigger than the girls I date”.  His words jolted my heart.  In that moment, it was no longer he and I in the room.  Instead, it was rejection.  It was every single person who had ever said anything ugly about my body.  It was wound upon wound about the very thing I am most sensitive about.

I cried.  He apologized.  I was trying to decipher whether he meant he wasn’t physically attracted to me, or if he was being intentionally unkind or something else.  He assured me, he only wanted to be ‘honest’.  I don’t want to pick and choose honesty, it just seemed like such an intensely vulnerable moment to choose this brand of honesty.  To my own regret, I did not stop the evening there.  We continued down a path I wish we would’ve not traveled down.  The journey was less than remarkable.  Of course it was.

He left in the morning.  I spent two days looking at myself in the mirror; seeing not a beautiful woman but a little head with a huge, outrageously large body.  I didn’t eat much that weekend, because ‘bigger girls’ don’t deserve to eat. I punished myself with disdain and a refusal to acknowledge any of the progress I have made in the past few years.  I spoke of this only to a very small group of friends that know my heart more than I know it myself sometimes.  I was devastated, disgusted and ashamed of me.  I took myself to a place I haven’t traveled in an extraordinarily long time.  His apologies were texted through out the weekend.  I remained the nice girl and said I understood.  In the moment, I did understand because I myself, agreed with him.  I was more than I should be and less than enough.

The more I thought about it and received ‘medicine’ from the people who love me, the more I came to a different conclusion.  Today, nearly a week later, I am acknowledging that it’s okay to think he was incredibly shallow and wrong in that moment. I am going inside of myself and asking why I skimmed right over the pain when it happened and continued with a path I didn’t really want to go down. I am horribly sad that my size determined my value to him.  I am even more sad that I have spent any time of this precious life aching to be who he wished I was.

As I mentioned, we are each entitled and encouraged to have preferences and know what we are attracted to. What I cannot fathom is why someone would in essence, attack someone in a most vulnerable situation.  What is the ‘reward’ of that kind of honesty?

He withdrew, going from several conversations  a day to perhaps a goodnight or “how are you?” text.  I had no idea what was going on in his head.  Was he feeling so bad he didn’t know how to recover this?  Was he trying to ghost me?  I don’t know.  I finally just told him that his behavior was extremely confusing to me.  I received a quick response, “I am sorry, we are still friends, right?”

I explained that I was happy to explore a friendship but didn’t need a pen pal.  I sent him a video with my very real perspective.  He’s missing out.  His opinion does not determine my value…though it took me a while to get there and I’m still working on it.  I am the unique kind of beautiful that I love.  My heart is pure, my mind is inquisitive, my spirit is genuine and real, I am compassionate, funny, smart and though I am not Ms. Universe, I am the kind of beautiful only I can be.  He doesn’t see and that’s okay…he is not for me.  My last text to him was to let him know that I had his really cool wine tumblers if he wanted them back.

Truly, I don’t think this is a bad guy. I think he has parts of him that are super cool. He is intelligent, attractive on the outside and a great conversationalist. I do believe he is sorry for hurting me. I am sorry he hurt me too, yet I’m thankful that I was forced through this ugliness to face some feelings I’ve been burying for too long.

Since my ex- husband left our home, it was my prayer and my desire to learn to love and accept myself.  Fully.  Always.  I will continue to strive to be the best version of me, and I am lovely right where I am…not just when I arrive.

The pursuit of health and healthy living is of the upmost importance. I have worked my ass off the past two years to get to a healthy place…inside and out. I’m still a work in progress and hope to God I always will be.

I wonder about our world. I wonder what it would be like if the pursuit of kindness, character development, compassion, humor and gentleness were more important than the pursuit of a hot body. Maybe they are; I just haven’t found that person in my dating life.

If someone had to choose to love my mind and heart or my appearance, I would choose my heart and mind; no contest.  I know that while I have my physical preferences, heart, mind, compassion and character are my ultimate deciders.  I hope and pray that there is someone who loves ALL of me, not in spite of my uniqueness, but because of it.

Also…I am keeping the wine tumblers.

 

 

 

Real Life

My heart hurts this morning. I’m scared and I feel lonely. I could keep quiet and not share this, yet I feel nudged to do otherwise.

I know truth versus my feelings.

I’m not alone. I have a God who is already in my tomorrow and faith does reign over my fear.

I long for something relationally different, yet I am never alone. My God has never and will never forsake me.

Keeping my vulnerability under wraps is me believing the lies. It is me not honoring who I am to save another’s discomfort. It is me not being me.

I do live in gratitude and seek a path of surrender and trust.

Still, I am afraid of unknowns. Sometimes my most honest prayer is a “Lord, please help me with my unbelief.” I know you are there but I’m often not sure that our definitions of “okay” match. I need help trusting that your “okay” is far better.

I lived through a corrective heart surgery at 9 months of age that was a glorious medical miracle. My childhood was shaped by my Grandmas mental illness. There was a stroke that I “shouldn’t have survived”. A divorce that left me reeling. Daddy’s battle with Alzheimer’s. So much more.

I am here.

For whatever reason, I am here.

I am deeply compassionate toward those suffering with mental illness as a result of those childhood years.

The love of and for my family (immediate and extended) is abundant, genuine and solid.

My friends are a balm to my heart. They surround me with accountability, support, love, laughter and insight. They are my framily.

That stroke taught me lessons that nothing else could; it gave me a whole new lens to see with.

That divorce. It sucked. From those married years I have the best two children; glorious beyond anything I ever prayed for. Perfectly imperfect yet perfect for me. An ex-spouse who is my best friend and a growing up me.

Alzheimer’s. I learned to truly find joy in the journey. Daddy and I. Healing, laughter, tears and so much love. Precious memories made all while the memory thief was hard at work. Irony at its best.

Grief taught me…everyone’s path is experienced differently. For me, guttural crying and rolling around on the floor until your bones ache was part of the path. No need to be sorry. It’s my path to travel.

….although your heart physically aches and hope might seem beyond reach, the sun will rise again, one day. In the meantime, let it rain as long as you need rain.

…your experience is normal for You. If and when a plethora of people are feeling concerned, take heed, don’t be afraid to seek help. Medication, counseling, church….find your support and dive into it free from shame.

Always lessons learned. Gratitude sought. Love expressed. Faith over fear reached for.

Here I remain, human as human can be.

In this moment God, I am lonely. My heart hurts. I am afraid. Help me be a light and glorify your heart in the middle of my fear and solitude. Help me love you deeper. Help me strengthen my faith. And please hold me tight. I know there are gifts in this part of the journey too.

May we all seek and savor them.

Be blessed loves.

In gratitude

Tonight I shall lay my head on my pillow and say my prayers.

I will express my gratitude because today, I lived. I might’ve lived messily. My feelings may have been all over the place and it was a little icky…but I lived.

Today, I told many people that I loved them (and meant it); and I was loved by many (albeit through texting, phone calls, face time and all that stuff).

Today was quieter with work; still, I worked from home with Seniors who are so scared. I drank lots of coffee and took in lots of emotions.

Tonight, I enjoyed a little red wine, ate chips and guacamole for dinner, continued to pack boxes and talked to dear friends. I laughed and I cried.

I went through ALL of J and S’s baby clothes and I reminisced. I am certain I can still smell their little baby selves and feel how they molded into my arms and against my chest. I prepared their clothes to be passed on to great nieces, great nephews and sweet young friends.

I got dumped by the guy I was seeing. By text. Ouch, I thought he was different. Better luck next time and best wishes to him. I thought about how much this Coronavirus has me longing for what I’m missing.

And then…I got a sweet text from my daughter. I recalled that my precious son came to visit today. I revisited all of the love that IS in my life. I gave thanks for the wisdom my dear friends and family share with me so generously. I looked at my fur babies and I reminded myself that feeling lonely is not the same as being alone.

So when I lay my head on the pillow tonight, it shall be in gratitude that I am here and that you are here. That we had another day. I will talk with God and ask him for peace and understanding and for health and wellness for His people. I will ask Him to be with the families of those who are not here, whether due to stupid coronavirus or something else. Most of all, I will ask him to help me to continue to walk in love, even when and especially when it’s hard.

Sweet dreams my loves.

To be Continued

The cohort gathered to the side, waiting for their turn to receive their diploma and thrilled to be in this moment together.  There was safety in this group, they each had grown leaps and bounds. Hearts were filled with adoration for each other, while tummies fluttered with anticipatory butterflies.  There was an aura of disbelief that they had actually made it through grad school and to this point.

Her name was called.  Feeling strong and proud, she went up the steps, handed her name card to one of the faculty and quietly pronounced her last name.  The nod came and she moved across the stage; pausing to have her hood placed by a professor that she deeply admired.  The next stop was the university’s President.  Her beaming smile was ready for their photo as they shook hands and looked into the camera.

Among the graduation attendees were members of her precious family.  The first face she saw walking out into the chairs was that of her beautiful mother.  She located both of her treasured children, her big brother and one of her beloved nieces.  She felt incredibly loved! Her heart was bursting with joy and gratitude that she was really here.

This was graduation.  It would go down as one of the best days of her life.  That evening, there was a celebratory dinner, tears, toasts, laughter and love.  So much love. Friends and family surrounding her, filling her cup to the brim and overflowing.  Her heart was bursting with gratitude and joy.  She breathed it all in; still slightly in disbelief that this was real.

She knows herself intimately; yet she senses there is so much more to know.  She is an onion, peeling back a layer at a time.  This higher education is the first dream she has pursued and seen to the finish line; she stepped into this with full faith and trust that it was exactly where she was supposed to be and all the details would fall into place.

She thinks back to an intensive emotional camp that she and her ex-husband took their two teenagers this last summer, in hopes of bringing healing to the wounds they had caused each other.  During that camp; there was an indoor ropes course.  She was paired with her beautiful 14 year old daughter, a reflection of her soul.  Here is what happened, as told by, ‘her’.

“I was terrified, not of the heights, but that I wouldn’t be able to balance.”  (She had struggled some with balance issues since the stroke many years ago.  In truth, she struggled with looking or feeling ‘broken’ more than she struggled with balance).

“I asked the person assisting us with the ropes course to please check that I was tightly fastened in, several times.” “They assured me of my safety, reminding me that the ladder could move anywhere and give me an out anytime I needed it.”  “I heard ‘C’mon Mom, you’ve got this, you can do this.’ Stella had already crossed the four wide swinging logs and made it to the next platform.  I looked at her sweet face and thought to myself, “I cannot disappoint her, again.”

“I held so tightly to the ropes that my fingertips could’ve become engrained in them.” ‘One…two…three…four steps and I made it.”  Stella was right there telling me what a good job I did.  I watched her cross onto the next platform by crawling through two swinging tunnels.  It looked easy enough.

Pfft.  Stella’s 14 year old lithe self is alot smaller than my 47 year old cushy self. ” In order to cross from one tunnel into the next, I had to squat inside the first one, step onto a square platform in a squat and drop into the next tunnel.”  “This is when my anxiety really started; I could feel my throat clenching as I reminded myself to breathe.  My arms ached from the death grip I had on the ropes.” “Still, always my cheerleader, Stella continued to cheer me on.”  “I stood up on the next platform, legs and arms shaking. ”  I saw the rows of skinny logs that were swinging and began to talk myself into a frenzy.”  “Stella was on the other side and right after this was the zipline, which I desperately wanted to do.”  “I wanted nothing more than to show my daughter that we were in this together, I trusted her, I would do this.”

“My fear gave way and on the next to the last swinging log, I began to sob.  Loud.” “I asked Stella to get a worker to help me.” “She didn’t want to, she told me I was almost there, but I was hearing nothing louder than my fear and doubt.”

“The kind eyed, young girl came to help me.  She assured me she could get the ladder but told me that I only had one step left and I would be safe on the steady platform.” “She held out her hand and I took it and stepped across.”  “I made it!  Disbelief in my success, again.”

“I apologized profusely to Stella.  I felt ashamed of my emotional, loud fear and tears that everyone could see.”  “I don’t know what Stella saw, she hugged me and I hope, even if she was embarrassed, she was proud of me.”

So…okay…”she” is “me”.  This is my own story to own.  Here’s the thing I learned from that ropes course.  It was an exact mirror to my life.  There are numerous things that have been important to me.  I get right on the edge of success and I quit.  I stop.  I freeze.  Why?  Maybe because I don’t know what’s on the other side.  The devil we know is better than the one we don’t know, right?  All too often, I yield to my own fear rather than ask for a little help.  I had no idea that a ropes course would offer me such deep insight to my life.

One week post graduation…

I’m going through all of the graduation cards and gifts I recieved last week and soaking in all of the gratitude.

It’s not about the sentiments and gifts, though I am deeply thankful for them. They are the cherry on top of the sundae. No way, in all of ever, would I have graduated without the constant love, prayers, support, encouragement, and appropriate ass kickings when I needed them.

For so many reasons, I never thought I’d be ‘here’. My brother knows me well. On my card, he wrote, “What’s next? No reason to stop now.” Because it’s what I’ve done so many times…I stop right before I succeed. (see ropes course example)

I realize that the last week I have been a little frozen, a lot sad and slightly discouraged. What is next? I DON’T KNOW! I like to know, you know?

Last night I had a dream. It pinged me so hard that I woke to write it in my journal so I wouldn’t forget it.

The sage and kind therapist my ex-husband and I saw for three years, Missy, was in my dream. I was in her office, telling her of all my woes. Before I left, she told me she had a gift for me.

She reached up on her tippy toes and pulled a small item out from the back of a cabinet. She held her hand out and in it was a key. She asked me what this key represented to me. Odd question, I thought…even for a dream. Yet, I knew. Missy gave me one of her famously warm, reassuring hugs that let me know life would be okay. Better than okay. I thanked her and left her office.

I took a black sharpie, and on the key, I wrote, “OWNERSHIP.” I can’t stop reflecting this morning as I feel joy and pride swelling up inside my heart. This is my life. I must live it and I must live it well.

This journey has just begun. I have the key to open the doors.

I HAVE THE KEY.

 

P.S. Stella and I rode together to my graduation.

During the drive, in Stella fashion; “I want to tell you something mom but you can’t get all cheezy.

Me: “Sure love, what’s up?”

Stella: “I am so, so proud of you.”  (Immediately followed by a hand and, “That’s it!  Don’t get cheezy.”

That is more than enough.